Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges; Faces 10 Years In Jail

Brittney Griner center for Phoenix Mercury at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix,AZ USA May 23,2017.

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Brittney Griner returned to court on Thursday morning for the second day of her trial for drug smuggling charges.

Griner has been detained since February after Russian officials claim vape cartridges containing cannabis oil was found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. As a result, Russian officials launched a drug trafficking investigation into the 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury star. She was charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs.”

On Thursday, Griner pleaded guilty to the charges and asked the court for mercy, saying she packed the cartridges “inadvertently.”

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner told the judge, via ESPN.com.

If convicted, Griner could face up to 10 years in prison.

From the report:

Sources said the guilty plea to charges of drug possession and smuggling was a strategy to help facilitate a prisoner swap that could bring Griner home, and it also was a recognition that there was no way she was going to be acquitted.

There is no timetable, but the real resolution to Griner’s case is expected to be a deal that brings one or more Russians currently in U.S. custody back to Russia in exchange for the release of Griner and possibly another American, Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since December 2018.

For the last seven years, Griner has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. She last played on January 29 before a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

While Griner is being detained, the WNBA is honoring her with a “BG42” logo on every court until she is released.

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