German man arrested in Russia for allegedly smuggling cannabis gummies

This photo released by Russian Federal Customs Service on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, shows Patrick Schobel’s cannabis gummies found on him during examination at Pulkovo airport outside St. Petersburg, Russia. A Moscow court has remanded a German citizen into custody after his arrest for possession of cannabis gummies and accusations of smuggling drugs. Russian state news agency Tass says Patrick Schobel was detained at Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg and will remain in custody until at least March 15. Russian Federal Customs Service via AP

A Moscow court on Wednesday remanded a German citizen into custody after his arrest over possession of cannabis gummies and accusations of smuggling drugs, Russian state news agency Tass said.

Patrick Schobel, 38, was detained at Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg late last month and will remain in custody until at least March 15, Tass said.

Russia’s Federal Customs Service said the German national arrived in the country to visit a friend, and when searched, a packet of “Fink Green Goldbears” with six cannabis gummies inside was found on him.

According to the Federal Customs Service, Schobel told authorities he brought 10 gummies from Germany into Russia to have a more “restful sleep” on long flights. When the gummies were tested at the airport, they were found to contain tetrahydrocannabinol, which is banned in Russia.

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The customs service posted a picture of the gummies, a German passport and the packet with a cannabis leaf on the front. Both Tass and the Customs Service said Schobel faces up to seven years in prison for smuggling drugs.

In Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christian Wagner confirmed that a German national had been arrested. He said Russian authorities informed the German consulate and German officials are in contact with the man’s lawyers.

The report came after President Vladimir Putin recently indicated that he would discuss swapping a Russian jailed for murder in Germany in a wider prisoner swap with Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested on espionage charges while on a business trip to Russia in March last year.

Russia has previously been accused of targeting foreign citizens to use them as bargaining chips to secure the release of Russian prisoners abroad. The Russian governmnet has denied the accusations.

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In a recent interview, Putin appeared to suggest that in exchange for Gershkovich, Russia is seeking the return of Vadim Krasikov who is serving a life sentence in Germany after being convicted of the 2019 killing of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity.

Prisoner swaps between three countries are rare. In the interview, Putin said Russia is “ready to solve it but there are certain conditions that are being discussed between special services. I believe an agreement can be reached.”

Asked last week whether there had been any effort by Russia to secure a swap of Krasikov and Gershkovich and whether Berlin was in contact with the U.S., the German government refused to comment.

German judges said Krasikov acted on the orders of Russian authorities, who gave him a false identity, a passport and resources to carry out Khangoshvili’s killing.

In addition to Gershkovich, the United States is also seeking the return of Paul Whelan, a former Marine held in Russia for more than four years. U.S. officials were not able to secure his release in December 2022, when they agreed to a deal to swap U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

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