PORTLAND, Maine — A London man accused of money laundering and conspiring to import and export marijuana from Maine to England should be in federal court in Portland to face charges in late spring or early summer, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Gypsy Nirvana, 56, was indicted in August 2013 by a federal grand jury in Portland, according to court documents.
The indictment was sealed until Friday. Information about why it was unsealed was not made public.
Nirvana was arrested on Aug. 23, 2013, in Olongapo City, Philippines, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
After Nirvana’s arrest, Siegfred Mison, the then-acting immigration commissioner for the Philippines, told the Daily Inquirer that “the suspect profited hugely from his UK-based marijuana seed auction business, which catered mostly to American customers who transacted with him either via the internet or by mail and money wire transfers.”
Mison also told the newspaper that the “racket was uncovered only after several informants, who were Nirvana’s former associates, tipped U.S. authorities about his activities.”
The investigation that led to Nirvana’s arrest began on July 11, 2011, when customs agents at Logan International Airport in Boston intercepted an England-bound shipment of marijuana seeds that allegedly were purchased by Nirvana, Mison told the Daily Inquirer more than three years ago.
That discovery resulted in raids by agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on several marijuana plantations in Maine and the arrest of suspects who exposed and detailed the extent of the Nirvana’s marijuana business, the immigration official said.
No information about when and where specifically the DEA executed the raids in Maine was included in the indictment, which alleges Nirvana was exporting and importing marijuana.
Nirvana fought extradition from the Philippines for nearly a year, before that country’s court of appeals ordered the bureau of immigration to proceed with his deportation to England, the Daily Inquirer reported on July 20, 2014.
Information on when he left the Philippines and arrived in London was not included in the article or court documents. The U.S. attorney’s office indicates that Nirvana remains jailed in England awaiting extradition to Maine.
He was described by the bureau of immigration in the Philippines as “the founder of the online International Cannagraphic magazine” who allegedly was involved in a “marijuana seed auction business, which has been catering to customers in the U.S.”
Shortly after his arrest, Nirvana called the charges “ridiculous” on his blog. He said the selling of cannabis seed was legal in the United Kingdom because the seeds themselves contain no narcotic substances.
Nirvana was indicted with one or two other people for alleged drug activity between 2004 and April 2013 but their names are redacted from the indictment because they are not yet in custody, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
If convicted, Nirvana faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. He also could be ordered to forfeit money and property if it is linked to his alleged drug operation.