Cirque du Soleil co-founder detained for allegedly growing cannabis on private South Pacific island

The co-founder of the global circus company Cirque du Soleil has been detained in French Polynesia for allegedly growing marijuana on his private island.

A French police official told The Associated Press that Guy Laliberte, 60, was expected to appear before a judge on Wednesday in Papeete, the territory's capital on the island of Tahiti.

FILE: Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte speaks at a news conference in Montreal.

FILE: Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte speaks at a news conference in Montreal. (The Canadian Press via AP)

Lune Rouge, a Montreal-based company headed by Laliberte, confirmed his detention. It said Laliberte is being questioned about cannabis reportedly grown for personal use on his private island of Nukutepipi.

The company said Laliberte is a medical marijuana user, but he “categorically denies” involvement in the sale or trafficking of controlled substances.

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“Guy Laliberte completely dissociates himself from any rumor implicating him…in the sale or traffic of drugs,” the company said in a statement.

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Local broadcaster Polynesie 1 said police recently detained a person close to Laliberte for drug possession and found photos of cannabis plantations in the person’s cellphone.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.