A POPULAR Finnish expat has been charged, along with 53 other people, and a pop star, in Finland’s biggest-ever drug-trafficking case.
Niko Ranta-aho, who was part of the Marbella elite, once owned the popular Teatro in Puerto Banus, a restaurant-cum-performance venue which welcomed such stars as Tyga and Ja Rule.
With a property-development company, and a pretty girlfriend, Sofia Belorf, as well as a huge mansion in the exclusive Guadalmina Alta, which is home to the likes of former prime minister Jose Aznar, life seemed perfect for the handsome hunk.
But that all came to an abrupt halt last July when he was arrested in Helsinki, accused of drug-trafficking and
money-laundering in what is seen as the country’s biggest scandal in recent memory.
Now, six months later, he has been formally charged alongside 53 others, including his girlfriend.
They are accused of smuggling a wide range of substances into Finland, including more than 200kg of amphetamines, 60kg of hash, 15kg of cocaine, more than 30kg of MDMA, over 100,000 ecstasy tablets, 20,000 LSD tabs, 2kg of crystal meth and around two million pharmaceutical pills.
In addition, girlfriend Sofia is believed to have been be accused of money-laundering.
According to Finish evening newspaper Ilta Sanomat, the long list of the accused includes entrepreneurs, high-profile family members and the usual suspects from the crime underworld.
Helsinki District Court has yet to reveal the full list of offences, or who they correspond to, but the charges have been divided into four categories.
Hell’s Angels kingpin Jarkko Laakso, former president of the Cannonball gang, plus Ari Ronkainen and Finnish body-building champ Kimmo Niemi are also among those charged.
The first hearings will begin at Helsinki District Court on January 30.
The case also stretched into the country’s celebrity world after Finnish pop star Samu Haber was also charged with drug offences.
According to national tabloid Iltalehti, Haber was charged after it was revealed that he had indulged in drugs at an after-party last summer.
The singer-songwriter, also a judge on a TV music competition, denied any links to the gang, as well as to
“In summer 2019, I attended an after party and I admit having a small dose of drugs there, offered to me for free,” he admitted to Iltalehti. “I am not guilty of any crime and this will become clear during this trial.”
Haber took to Instagram to apologise to his fans, writing: “Doing drugs is a crime, and it’s wrong. Imposing a penalty for that is absolutely right. I’ve been really stupid, and there are no excuses. I will learn from this. I apologise for my behaviour to my beloved ones, the band, partners and everyone who might think of me as some sort of a role model.”
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