Russians detain Bakersfield native over drug charges

Bakersfield native Travis Michael Leake was featured on a CNN docu-series about his time in Russia in 2014. Now, he’s being detained in the country.

Travis Michael Leake, a man who graduated from a Bakersfield high school, was detained in Moscow after authorities accused him of organizing a drug trafficking business involving young people.

According to a Russian news agency, Leake has worked for at least a decade as a musician in Russia. The West High School graduate’s mother lives in Bakersfield, and he attended the local institution from 1985 to 1989.


Driving the news: A spokesperson with the U.S. State Department declined to list specific charges Leake faces on the record.

  • The Associated Press reported that Leake is accused of selling mephedrone and faces charges of production or distributing drugs, carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The court also ordered him to be detained for two months.
  • Leake’s LinkedIn page shows he is the lead vocalist, lyricist, and producer for LoviNoch, which describes itself as the world’s first American fronted Russian rock band singing in both English and Russian. Interfax, the Russian news agency, wrote in Russian that Leake is a former paratrooper. The statements were translated into English through an online service.
  • Leake was interviewed by Anthony Bourdain’s famed travel show “Parts Unknown” in 2014. The episode features locals talking about living under Vladimir Putin’s leadership while Bourdain explores the local drinking and dining scene. The former Bakersfield resident talks about his role managing the band Louna. He also quips about KBG agents following Bourdain and listening to their conversation.

What they’re saying: “I have been formally accused of nothing,” Leake said, according to a video played by Russian television station Ren TV. “I don’t know why I am here.” Ren TV also showed a picture of Leake handcuffed while lying on the floor in his underwear and a shirt.

  • “My number one priority as Secretary of State is the safety and security of Americans abroad, and this is — this is no exception,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “So we’re working to gather information to understand exactly what happened, and of course, we will be very focused on this.”
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