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US citizen sentenced to over 12 years behind bars in Russia

The Russia-born American national was handed a lengthy prison term for drug trafficking

A Moscow court has convicted Robert Woodland, a Russia-born US national, of drug trafficking charges, sentencing him to 12 and a half years behind bars on Thursday.

The defendant was detained by Russian law enforcement in early January while attempting to place mephedrone into a dead drop – a method of passing goods between people using a secret location rather than meeting in person. It was established that Woodland had earlier taken a large batch of the narcotic from a pick-up point and transported it to an apartment in Moscow, from where he planned to distribute it illegally, prosecutors said.

The scheme appears to be typical for darknet-based drug trafficking, where foot couriers usually take the heat while their large-scale suppliers remain anonymous.

During a search at his address in Moscow, police recovered over 46 grams of the drug, a haul considered under Russian law to be “exceptionally large.” 

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The offense carries a penalty of 10-20 years behind bars. The prosecution requested 12 years for Woodland. The court opted to give him six months longer than requested, with Woodland’s legal team pledging to appeal the ruling.

Shortly after his arrest, the US State Department said it was aware of Woodland’s situation and declared him to be “wrongfully detained,” while pledging to work to secure his release. Apart from being a US national, the man also holds Russian citizenship. 

Born in 1991 in Russia’s Perm Region as Roman Romanov, Woodland was adopted by an American couple at around the age of two. He opted to return to Russia in 2020, seeking his roots, as well as his biological mother, whom he ultimately met on a Russian TV show. 

At the time, Woodland’s story received some coverage in the Russian media. Woodland claimed, among other things, that he had been effectively sold to his foster parents by an orphanage for a bribe of $10,000.

July 05, 2024 at 02:18AM
RT

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