Ex-Kings, Predators player Karalahti charged in drug smuggling case

Updated: January 29, 2008, 11:15 AM ET
Associated Press

HELSINKI, Finland -- Former NHL player Jere Karalahti was charged Tuesday with being involved in smuggling amphetamines into Finland.

The 32-year-old Karalahti was charged with being involved in smuggling nine pounds of amphetamines into the country. In a case that includes 19 people, he also allegedly provided $29,500 for smuggling operations, prosecutors said. He has denied the charges.

If found guilty, Karalahti could face up to six years in prison.

The drug ring is suspected of smuggling amphetamines and cocaine from Estonia to Finland last year.

On Nov. 6, Karalahti was taken off the ice for police questioning during his Karpat team's practice. Three days later, he was arrested on suspicion of committing a serious drug offense.

The Finnish Hockey League temporarily banned Karalahti in December.

Karalahti left the NHL in 2002 after being suspended for six months for his third violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He played 121 games from 2000-02 for the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators.

Karalahti joined Karpat last year. Skating for Finland, he was voted an All-Star defenseman at the 1998 and '99 world championships.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press