American Basketball Star Arrested in Russia

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MOSCOW – Traveling with your stash is never a good idea, especially if your itinerary includes countries that are hostile to the United States and have draconian drug laws. American former WNBA All-Star center Brittney Griner can attest to that after being detained at a Moscow airport when customs officers claimed to find vaporizer cartridges in her luggage.

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


It is unclear how many carts Griner had in her possession or whether she was entering or exiting the country. She currently plays for a team in the Russian Premier League and may have been attempting to follow other American players home to the U.S. after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Griner waits in jail while authorities decide whether to charge her with “large-scale transportation of drugs, an offense that can carry a sentence of up to ten years behind bars,” according to the New York Times.

The Phoenix Mercury’s number-one draft pick in 2013, Griner enjoys a fairly high profile in women’s sports. In addition to winning WNBA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year twice each, she is a three-time Russian National League champion and won two Olympic gold medals and two World Cups as a member of Team USA.