MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. Due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the US embassy has evacuated from Russia US citizen Gaylen Grandstaff, whom Russian police suspected of trafficking psychotropic substances into Russia under the guise of buying cleaning products online, a law enforcement source has told TASS.
"When the novel coronavirus pandemic was in full swing, the US embassy evacuated its citizen Gaylen Grandstaff to his homeland aboard one of its last flights from Moscow. He has since stayed in Texas," the source said.
Grandstaff’s lawyer Anton Omelchenko confirmed the information to TASS, adding that his client left the Russian territory "officially and legally."
"The Russian authorities have issued an exit visa for him," he said. "If the criminal proceedings against him in Russia are stopped, and there are no questions to him, he may probably return to his wife, who has so far been unable to reunite with him due to the pandemic."
According to the lawyer, there have been no plans to dismiss the criminal case against Grandstaff so far.
"He [Grandstaff] is now waiting for the quarantine to be over and will see how the situation unfolds," he said.
In 2017, the 55-year-old US citizen was placed in a pretrial detention facility after customs officers found out that cleaning products that the man had ordered from China contained gamma-Butyrolactone. The substance is prohibited in Russia, but sold freely in China, where it is widely used as a component of household products.
On March 18, 2019, Moscow’s Solntsevsky Court suspended the hearings into Grandstaff’s case and sent case files to the Russian Prosecutor General’s office for taking the necessary remedial measures. The US citizen was released from custody.
Grandstaff resided in Russia and is married to a Russian citizen. The charges against him entail a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. According to Grandstaff’s lawyer Anton Omelchenko, the case was within the area of responsibility of drug police officers from Moscow’s Western Administrative District, who were sacked in connection with the high-profile case of journalist Ivan Golunov.