The Russian Federal Customs Service said that it has detained an American basketball player, which Russian news agency TASS identified as Brittney Griner. The Phoenix Mercury star was taken into custody after officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport.
The Russian Federal Customs Service released a video showing what appears to be Griner traveling through the Moscow-adjacent airport as a parcel was removed from her baggage.
According to the statement released by the Russian Federal Customs Service and obtained by the New York Times, a criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs,” which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Phoenix Mercury said in a statement Saturday. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
The detainment comes as Russia continues its military invasion of Ukraine, resulting in hundreds of casualties and destruction to major Ukrainian cities.
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star, was competing in Russia for UMMC Ekaterinburg. WNBA players, including reigning MVP Jonquel Jones, have evacuated Russia and Ukraine amid the ongoing escalation, and FIBA has banned Ekaterinburg and other Russian teams from competing in the EuroLeague playoffs that begin Tuesday.
“The few WNBA players who were competing this offseason in Ukraine are no longer in the country,” the WNBA told ESPN in a statement on Sunday, adding that the league was in contact with players in Russia.