Photo by Michael Hickey / Getty Images

News | 03.09.2022

WNBA Star Brittney Griner Detained By Russian Customs For Carrying Cannabis Vape Cartridges In Luggage

The Pheonix Mercury athlete has been detained in Russia for weeks; other details are slim.

Brittney Griner, WNBA star and seven-time All-Star center, made headlines recently when the Russian Federal Customs detained her at an airport for carrying cannabis oil.

Per the initial report from the New York Times, Griner was in Russia with her women’s basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, playing within the Russian Premier League. The 31-year-old athlete was caught with cannabis oil and taken over to a police station when allegedly heading back to the United States.

On Saturday, Russian television news stations released a photo of Griner at the police station, but there was no date on the image, nor did news stations supply any further details regarding the case. Irina Begisheva from the Russian Federal Customs Service mentioned in a conference the following statement translated to English; 

“An expert determined that the liquid is a narcotic drug, cannabis oil. A criminal case has been opened against an American citizen for smuggling a significant amount of drugs.” 

Photo by AP Photo / Ralph Freso, F

The cannabis oil customs found in Griner’s luggage was in the form of a few vape cartridges that she had brought over from the United States. According to CBS Sports, it’s likely that Griner was trying to leave Russia amid the ongoing invasions into Ukraine. 

Because the released photo of Griner doesn’t specify a date, New York Times points out that airport footage sees the athletes at Sheremetyevo International Airport in February, meaning she’s probably been detained for weeks now. The case has yet to close, and reports say Griner could face drug and related transportation charges that might land her ten years in Russian prison. 

Photo by Stacy Revere / Getty Images

Back home, Griner plays for the WNBA team, the Pheonix Mercury—she’s been with the franchise since 2013 when it selected her as the number one overall pick in the WNBA draft that year. As per CBS Sports, the franchise released a brief statement regarding Griner’s situation in Russia.

“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” it read, adding that Pheonix Mercury executives “remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA.”

The franchise concluded that “We love and support Brittney, and at this time, our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”

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