Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Coca Cola Bottling Heir's Pot Business Trip Ends in Arrests

By Paul Gaita 05/23/19

The actor's exact role in the chain of events remains largely unexplained.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Stop us if you've heard this one: the Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Coca-Cola bottling company heir Alki David, and Dish Network co-founder Chase Ergen land in the Caribbean—on a plane carrying more than $1.3 million in cannabis and CBD products.

But their alleged mission—to "develop legal cannabis businesses" on the island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, which recently legalized marijuana for private use—did not go as planned. Talks with the prime minister broke down, and Ergen and David were arrested at the airport, Vanity Fair reported.

Meyers' role in the trip remains unclear. According to Alki David, the actor's wife and mother-in-law, who were also reportedly aboard the plane, were cavity searched during the party's detainment.

David, whose family business, Leventis-David Group, owns the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, which is the third-largest international bottler in the world.

He also owns Swissx, which manufactures a wide array of CBD products ranging from vape pens to sleep and beauty products and sexual enhancement supplements. With Ergen—the co-founder of Dish Network and EchoStar, among other companies—David formed a consortium that sought to develop a cannabis industry in eastern Caribbean nations, including St. Kitts-Nevis, Dominica and Antigua.

On May 7, a private jet carrying David, Ergen, Meyers and members of his family, along with a reported 5,000 cannabis plants, seeds and CBD oil products flew to St. Kitts-Nevis.

According to a press release by David, the trip was intended to "work with the government, the courts, the banks, the business sector and the farmers to develop a fair system that creates thousands of jobs on the island and uses Swissx's international distribution network to make St. Kitts-Nevis cannabis products among the most sought after in the world."

A post on Facebook by the St. Kitts-Nevis police—which has been taken down—noted that when the group attempted to leave after the alleged failure of the talks with Prime Minister Timothy Harris, David and Ergen were arrested.

David had been charged with "possession with intent to supply, possession of controlled drugs and importation of a controlled drug into the federation."

As The Cut noted, marijuana is decriminalized for adult use on the island, but bringing it into the country requires special permission. Ergen was also reportedly arrested for drug possession—specifically, ketamine—which he claimed was used to treat bipolar disorder. 

David was eventually freed after posting $300,000 after a court appearance and left the country soon after. In Swissx's press release—marked by the hashtag #FreeAlkiDavid—David said that he and Ergen plan to file lawsuits against Prime Minister Harris and the St. Kitts-Nevis government. 

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.