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Meet the Coca-Cola Billionaire Who Was Arrested With 5,000 Cannabis Plants on His Private Plane

Rolling Stone — EJ Dickson

Alkiviades “Alki” David is what my Yiddish-speaking grandmother would refer to as a macher, or a big deal. The scion of a Greek Coca-Cola bottling company, David is estimated to be worth about $2.8 billion; he also owns his own company, Hologram USA, which is perhaps best known for its 2012 Tupac hologram that performed at Coachella. But to borrow another phrase from the Yiddish language, David is also known for being kind of a schmuck: Hologram USA has been embroiled in multiple lawsuits, and David himself has been sued for sexual assault and harassment by a former employee, who accused him of groping her, hiring a stripper at the office, and showing her lewd photos. (She won $11 million in damages.)

On Tuesday, David once again garnered controversy when he was arrested on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis for allegedly smuggling nearly $1.3 million worth of cannabis plants and seeds on his private jet, a decision that may have landed him in deep dreck. (Everyone should learn Yiddish! It’s a fun language.)

According to Vanity Fair, David landed in Saint Kitts and Nevis with a roster of buddies that reads like Celebrity Mad Libs: actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, his wife and Meyers’ mother-in-law were reportedly on his private plane, as was billionaire Chase Ergen, cofounder and chairman of satellite cable company Dish Network. Nearly 5,000 cannabis plants, hemp seeds and CBD products were recovered on the plane, a total of $1.3 million worth of cannabis products, and David was arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs onto the island.

For his part, David insists that the transportation of the cannabis was above-board, telling the Daily Mail that he traveled to St. Kitts and Nevis to “develop legal cannabis businesses in the region.” (David has a Swiss-based CBD business, Swissx Products, which its website touts as a “powerful addition to your daily wellness routine.”) Indeed, a press release dated from April 30th announces that David and Ergen are forming a consortium aimed at “developing the cannabis business in eastern Caribbean nations,” on the heels of an announcement from the St. Kitts and Nevis government that it was moving to legalize cannabis.

Apparently, however, St. Kitts and Nevis custom officials were not made aware of these plans. On Saturday, May 11th, the passengers on the private jet were held for eight hours after landing on the island. While they were initially released, David was arrested trying to leave the island on Monday and was released after posting $300,000 bail. He will reappear in court on September 23rd, addressing charges of possession of controlled drugs, importation of a controlled drug and possession with intent to supply.

For his part, David appears to be taking the arrest in stride. Through his legal team, he issued a statement to the Daily Mail saying that he had “cleared up the situation with the authorities in St. Kitts-Nevis” and that he “looks forward to continuing plans to develop the medicinal cannabis industry on the island, bringing new prosperity to its citizens.” In an Instagram story, he also appeared upbeat, telling his followers, “St. Kitts is not going to get all these delicious goodies for another couple of weeks. We’ve sorted out all of the issues that we had as you can see. No need for an extraction team. We’re headed back,” before speaking to his flight crew: “We’re back in three weeks with the rolling papers, baby.” Say what you will about Alki David, he’s got chutzpah.

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