The Philadelphia Flyers’ Jori Lehterä has been charged for his alleged role in a major drug trafficking ring in Pirkanmaa, Finland, reports MTV.
District Prosecutor Antti Virtanen has told the news outlet that an application for summons was filed with the District Court of Pirkanmaa on Monday, adding that Lehterä is one of the 22 people indicted in the large-scale case.
“His name is in the records of the district court,” he said to MTV.
The drug trafficking ring is believed to have smuggled approximately two kilos of cocaine into Finland. The Central Finland Police Department has revealed that the controlled substance was bulked out into over three kilos of street-grade cocaine and sold, for a profit of 400–450,000 euros, primarily in the Tampere region.
Reports of Lehterä’s suspected involvement in the ring first emerged in September. MTV reported that police had made arrests in connection with the pre-trial investigation on premises owned by Lehterä in Tampere. He was not among the people arrested at the time, but he was interrogated on suspicion of narcotics offence.
Possession or attempt to obtain a small amount of an illegal substance is considered a narcotics offence in Finland.
Lehterä has denied his involvement in the trafficking ring. His counsel stated before the charges were brought that it would be wrong to claim he is really involved in what the police are investigating, according to media reports in the United States.
The main hearings in the trial will begin at the District Court of Pirkanmaa on Monday, 31 December. Lehterä’s role in the illegal activity, however, will not be considered by the court until early January, according to MTV.
“We’ll first go through charges against the main perpetrators, meaning those who have handled considerable amounts of substances,” explained Virtanen.
Lehterä has appeared in 24 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) in the 2018–2019 season, recording one goal and two assists. The highlights of his international career include winning bronze at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia and silver at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus.
This article was updated with further details of the case at 11.02am on Friday.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT