Former league player Ben Darcy charged over 'dial-a-dealer' cocaine ring

Ben Darcy, 28, is arrested at a Paddington home as part of Operation Northrop into cocaine rings in Sydney. Photo: NSW Police
Ben Darcy, 28, is arrested at a Paddington home as part of Operation Northrop into cocaine rings in Sydney. Photo: NSW Police

Former rugby league player Ben Darcy has been arrested and charged over a cocaine distribution ring.

Darcy, 28, was caught up in a large sweep on street-level cocaine dealers allegedly operating "dial-a-dealer" type services throughout the CBD and surrounding suburbs.

Operation Northrop, which was established by Redfern detectives in September, was investigating the distribution of drugs, mainly cocaine, in the inner-city.

Detectives arrested Darcy at a Paddington residence on November 25 before allegedly seizing some cocaine and more than $30,000 during the execution of a search warrant.

Several years ago Darcy became an integral figure in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation into drugs in sport.

Ben Darcy and Sandor Earl. Photo: Supplied

Ben Darcy and Sandor Earl. Photo: Supplied

In 2013 Australian Customs officials allegedly found incriminating messages on Darcy's phone that indicated two close friends, then Roosters prop Martin Kennedy and Raiders player Sandor Earl, had been supplied with illicit performance-enhancing substances.

Darcy, who played in the lower grades for the Roosters, has been a friend of Earl and Kennedy since the trio attended Matraville Sports High.

The incriminating texts were found after customs officers seized Darcy's phone when he returned to Australia from Thailand.

In 2011 Darcy was detained in Germany after being caught trying to smuggle 36 baby python snakes into the country. The snakes, which were in his hand luggage, had allegedly been flown from Sydney via Dubai.

Although his friend Kennedy's passion for snake breeding was well known, Kennedy's lawyer was adamant that Kennedy had nothing to do with Darcy's snake-smuggling activities.

Sydney Roosters player Martin Kennedy (in navy blue top) and snakes. Image from video on www.roosters.com.au

Sydney Roosters player Martin Kennedy (in navy blue top) and snakes. Image from video on www.roosters.com.au

In March, 2017, Kennedy was charged over his alleged involvement in a reptile trafficking organisation.

A federal police raid on his Bondi Beach home found a number of snakes and $100,000 in cash.

Kennedy's lawyer Bryan Wrench has previously indicated Kennedy intends to enter a guilty plea over the illegal importing and exporting of reptiles including alligator snapping turtles, lizards and snakes. The matter will return to the Local Court in Sydney's Downing Centre in March 2018.

At the time of his arrest, Kennedy was serving a suspension of two years and nine months for breaching the league's anti-doping policy by using banned substances.

Earl, also 28, is set to make a comeback with the NRL having served a four-year ban for trafficking peptides.

Last week Darcy was charged with two counts of knowingly deal with the proceeds of crime, five counts of supplying a prohibited drug, ongoing drug supply and breaching his bail.

He was already in front of the courts for unrelated offences including assault occasioning actual bodily harm and failing to quit licensed premises.

Operation Northrop investigators will allege Darcy was one of a handful of street-level cocaine dealers who worked independently of each other.

More than 36 people were arrested during a series of search warrants in November, where police allegedly seized cocaine, MDMA, steroids, cars, more than $120,000 in cash, mobile phones and two guns.

Three more men were arrested last Friday.

Darcy has been granted conditional bail to reappear at Downing Centre Local Court on January 23.