December 10, 2019
Portland Latest News | EMMC Ratings | Bangor Metro | Lobster Industry | Today's Paper

Charges dropped against accused pot seed trader after UK refuses to extradite him to Maine

Richard Vogel | AP
Richard Vogel | AP
In this Thursday, April 4, 2019 photo a cannabis worker displays fresh cannabis flower buds that have been trimmed for market.

A federal judge in Portland has dismissed charges filed six years ago against a London man accused of buying and selling marijuana seeds in Maine.

The dismissal came Nov. 4 after the United Kingdom refused to extradite Gypsy Nirvana, 59, to the U.S. because auctioning off the seeds online is not a crime in that country.

Nirvana was indicted in August 2013 by a federal grand jury on conspiracy to import and export marijuana and money laundering charges. Two others, whose names remain redacted, were also indicted.

The indictment was unsealed in March 2017 when Nirvana was returned to London from the Philippines. He was expected to appear that spring in federal court in Portland but successfully fought extradition.

He was arrested Aug. 23, 2013, in Olongapo City in the Philippines on a federal warrant out of Maine, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Siegfred Mison, the then-acting immigration commissioner for the Philippines, told the newspaper that “the suspect profited hugely from his U.K.-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.”

The investigation that led to Nirvana’s arrest began July 11, 2011, when customs agents at Logan International Airport in Boston intercepted an U.K.-bound shipment of marijuana seeds that Nirvana had allegedly purchased, the Daily Inquirer reported.

Nirvana was extradited from the Philippines to London in 2014. Once there, he fought extradition to Maine while being held without bail. In August 2017, an English judge denied the extradition request and Nirvana was released.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Maine appealed that decision to the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, an appellate court in London, which upheld the lower court’s decision in March 2018.

The English judges found that Nirvana’s alleged crime in the U.S. did not satisfy the “dual criminality rule,” which says that a person cannot be extradited from the United Kingdom unless the alleged conduct in one country is also illegal in the U.K. and the crime is punishable by imprisonment of 12 months or more.

On Nov. 4 in U.S. District Court in Portland, District Judge Jon Levy granted a motion filed by federal prosecutors to dismiss the indictment.

Craig Wolff, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Maine, declined Thursday to comment on the dismissal.

Nirvana’s attorney, John Van Lonkhuyzen, did not immediately return a request for comment.

 



Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like