American stars in russia get busted for drug use

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American stars in russia get busted for drug use

The 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury player came to Russia to play basketball for a club in Russia's Yekaterinburg during the off-season -- a common path for American stars seeking additional income.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women's National Basketball Association champion pleaded guilty to the charges, but said she did not intend to break the law or use the banned substance in Russia.

Former US Marine Paul Whelan, 52, was arrested in December 2018 and accused of snooping by Russian security services.

He was detained on a visit to Moscow to attend a wedding when he took a USB drive from an acquaintance, thinking it contained holiday photographs. He didn't look at the contents of the drive, but his lawyer said it contained state secrets. The former security official at a vehicle parts company - who also has British, Canadian and Irish passports - was sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years on espionage charges.

During his trial in closed-door court, Whelan insisted he was innocent.

A teacher at an international school in Moscow, US citizen Marc Fogel, was sentenced in June to 14 years in prison on charges of large-scale cannabis trafficking.

Russian customs officers said they found marijuana and hash oil in Fogel's luggage when he arrived in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport from New York.

Fogel said the marijuana was prescribed in the US for medical purposes after a spinal operation.

Russia hasn't made the use of cannabis legal for medicinal purposes.

Russian officials said Fogel was previously employed by the US embassy in Moscow and benefited from diplomatic immunity until May 2021.

In 2012, Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout was sentenced to 25 years in a US jail after he was accused of arming rebels in some of the world's bloodiest conflicts.

The 55-year-old is considered the highest-profile Russian imprisoned in the US.

In 2008, the former Soviet Air Force officer and polyglot was arrested in Thailand during a sting operation in which US agents posed as Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC rebels seeking weapons of mass destruction.

He inspired the 2005 arms smuggling film Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage and was named the Merchant of Death by former British minister Peter Hain for supplying weapons to war-torn Angola and Liberia.