According to the JPSO, Onyemata’s apartment in River Ridge, Louisiana, was searched after a narcotics agent received a reliable tip that a quantity of marijuana products was going to be there. Onyemata was found in possession of marijuana, THC oil, edibles and hemp powder. However, the amount was below the threshold for a more serious offense, and there was no indication that the items were for anything other than personal use.
Onyemata was cooperative and was given a misdemeanor summons for a future court appearance, rather than being taken into custody. News of the incident was first reported by The New Orleans Advocate.
The Saints had no comment on Onyemata’s arrest.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto told reporters that the tip came because Onyemata was having a package delivered to his home that was red-flagged when it arrived through customs in New York. Lopinto said illegal items were found both in the package and in Onyemata’s apartment, but he reiterated authorities believed the items were only for personal use.
Onyemata could potentially face discipline from the NFL. Although players are not suspended the first time they test positive for marijuana, they could be suspended for illegal activities that include possession of marijuana.
Marijuana possession without medical permission is illegal in Louisiana.
Onyemata, 26, has been a rising part of the Saints’ defense in recent years after being drafted in the fourth round in 2016 out of the University of Manitoba in Canada. He is technically a backup, but he played about 60 percent of New Orleans’ defensive snaps this past season, with 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Onyemata’s development was a big reason why the Saints finished second in the NFL in run defense. And his role could be even bigger in 2019 if New Orleans’ top defensive tackle, Sheldon Rankins, isn’t available to start the season after tearing his Achilles last month.
Onyemata (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) was born in Nigeria and didn’t begin playing North American football until he went to college in Canada.