US & Canada

Puerto Rican ex-NBA star Piculin on drug charges

Jose "Piculin" Ortiz in a file photo from 4 September 2002 during a game against Angola
Jose "Piculin" Ortiz played for Utah Jazz and a variety of European teams

A former Puerto Rican basketball star has been arrested after police found 218 marijuana plants at his house.

Jose Ortiz, better known as Piculin, played for the Puerto Rican national team for more than two decades, and also for the NBA's Utah Jazz.

Police also seized 40 rounds of assault rifle ammunition at his home in Cayey, in Puerto Rico.

He has been charged with possession of marijuana plants, with intent to distribute.

If found guilty, he could face anywhere between five and 40 years in prison.

The marijuana plants found at his rented home are reported to have a value of around $150,000 (£93,000).

Local media reported that Piculin had been having financial problems after a restaurant he opened in his native town of Cayey failed to take off.

Federal magistrate Camile Velez Rive has sent Piculin to a drug rehabilitation clinic.

Piculin played for Puerto Rico's national basketball team, which represents the island in international basketball competitions, from 1983 to 2004.

He also played for Oregon State University and the Utah Jazz (1988-1990), as well as a variety of European teams.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 26 July.

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