MOSCOW, Russia — Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was reportedly detained in Moscow for alleged drug smuggling last month.
Russian news sources reported that a criminal case was initiated on Griner after she flew into Moscow and was found with vape cartridges with cannabis oil inside.
"In February 2022, when a U.S. citizen, who arrived on a flight from New York, was passing through the 'green' corridor at Sheremetyevo Airport, a service dog from the canine department of Sheremetyevo Customs indicated the possible presence of narcotic drugs in the escorted baggage," reports from Russia's Federal Customs Service cited.
An independent Russian news site identified the U.S. citizen as 31-year-old Griner.
The Mercury released a statement Saturday morning following the news.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. 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.”
News Interfax in Russia reported that the WNBA All-Star and Olympian would be investigated under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for the "smuggling of narcotic drugs in a significant amount."
The crime could be punishable with five to 10 years of imprisonment, the news source said. Recreational marijuana is legal for adults aged 21 or older in Arizona, where Griner resides.
Griner agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas said her team has been in close contact with her.
"As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern," Kagawa Colas said in a statement.
The New York Times reported the Customs Service released a video of a traveler that appeared to be Griner going through security and an individual going through the traveler's bag.
Griner, along with several other WNBA players, joined the Russian Women's Basketball Premier League this winter.
"The league has also been in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents. We will continue to closely monitor the situation," the WNBA said in a statement released earlier this week.
The news comes as Russia's invasions push further into Ukraine while thousands try to flee the country during a cease-fire that Russia failed to uphold.
Her wife Cherelle said on Instagram that the situation is "one of the weakest moments of my life" and acknowledged the support she and her family has received.
The post read:
"Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely."
Griner herself hasn't posted on her Instagram account since Feb. 5.
This is a developing story. Stay with 12 News as more information becomes available.
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