NIKO Ranta-aho was part of the Marbella elite.
The handsome entrepreneur once owned the popular Teatro in Puerto Banus, a restaurant-cum-performance venue which welcomed such stars as Tyga and Ja Rule.
With a property development company, bikini-fitness girlfriend Sofia Belorf and a huge mansion in the exclusive Guadalmina Alta – home to the likes of former prime minister Jose Aznar – life seemed perfect.
That all came to an abrupt halt last July when he was arrested in Helsinki, accused of drug trafficking and money laundering in what has become the country’s biggest scandal in recent memory.
Now six months later, he has been formally charged alongside 53 others – including girlfriend Belorf.
The group are accused of smuggling a wide range of substances into Finland, including more than 200 kilos of amphetamines, 60 kilos of hash, 15 kilos of cocaine, more than 30 kilos of MDMA, over 100,000 ecstacy tablets, 20,000 LSD tabs, two kilos of crystal meth and around two million pharmaceutical pills.
Belorf is believed to be accused of money laundering.
According to Ilta Sanomat, the long list of the accused includes entrepreneurs, high-profile family members and the usual suspects from the crime underworld.
Helsinki District Court has yet to reveal the full list of offences and who they correspond to, but the charges have been divided into four categories.
Hell’s Angels kingpin Jarkko Laakso, former president of the Cannonball gang Ari Ronkainen and Finnish bodybuilding champ Kimmo Niemi are also among the charged.
The first hearings will begin at Helsinki District Court on January 30.
The case has also extended into the country’s celebrity world after Finnish popstar Samu Haber was also charged with drug offences.
According to national tabloid Iltalehti, Haber was charged after it was revealed he indulged in drugs at an after party last summer.
The singer-songwriter, who is also a judge on a TV music competition, denied any links to the gang and Ranta-aho’s case.
“In summer 2019, I attended an after party and I admit having a small dose of drugs there, offered to me for free,” he admitted to Iltalehti.
“I am not guilty of any crime and this will become clear during this trial.”
Haber took to Instagram to apologise to his fans.
He wrote: “Doing drugs is a crime and it’s wrong. Imposing a penalty for that is absolutely right. I’ve been really stupid and there are no excuses. I will learn from this. I apologise [for] my behaviour to my beloved ones, the band, partners and everyone who might think of me as some sort of a role model.”