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Latvian national involved in fraudulent cannabis investment scheme could be extradited to Spain

A Latvian national involved in a fraudulent cannabis investment scheme could be extradited to Spain, LETA learned.

A joint investigation conducted by several European law enforcement authorities, supported by Europol and Eurojust, has busted a massive fraud scheme in Europe that had been devised to persuade people to invest in cannabis production for medical use. Two interconnected criminal groups were nabbed as a result of the law enforcement operation.

According to judicial estimates, the total damages resulting from fake investments in the advertised cannabis cultivation crowdsourcing platform amount to a staggering EUR 645 million, but actual and unreported damages could be significantly higher.

The suspects featuring in the fraud case include a Latvian national who was detained on April 11. On April 12, on the basis of a European arrest warrant issued by a Madrid court and a proposal by the Latvian Prosecutor General’s Office, the Riga City Court remanded the suspect in extradition detention, LETA was informed at the Latvian Prosecutor’s Office.

The Prosecutor General’s Office continues to examine the European arrest warrant and is deciding on the person’s extradition to Spain.

In total, an estimated 550,000 participants worldwide, most of them European citizens, were registered as online investors in the JuicyFields fraud scheme. Using bank transfers or cryptocurrencies, around 186,000 participants actually transferred funds into the elaborate Ponzi scheme active from early 2020 to July 2022, Europol informed last Friday.

The suspects, of mainly Russian but also Dutch, German, Italian, Latvian, Maltese, Polish, Jordanian, United States and Venezuelan nationality, used advertisements on social networks to lure victims to their websites. These platforms offered promising crowdsourcing investment opportunities in the cultivation, harvesting and distribution of cannabis plants to be used for medicinal purposes.

With a minimum initial investment of at least EUR 50 in this so-called ‘e-growing’ opportunity, investors were promised to be linked with producers of medical cannabis. Upon the purchase of a cannabis plant, the platform assured investors – also referred to as e-growers – they could soon collect high profits from the sale of marijuana to authorized buyers. While the company pledged annual returns of 100 percent or more, they did not reveal exactly how they would accomplish this, let alone be able to guarantee it.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)


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