U.S. Customs Detains Man For 82 Days After Bringing Honey From Jamaica
By DeAnna Taylor
It’s unfortunate that we have seen multiple stories lately of airport security personnel simply getting it wrong. Passengers are being stopped in customs lines around the world under the assumption that they are carrying illegal items in or out of a country.
That was the case for Maryland resident Leon Haughton. He traveled to Jamaica to visit some relatives, something he does every year. He also decided to bring back fresh honey from a roadside stand, something he also does every year.
As he entered back in the United States, customs officials detained him stating that they found traces of drugs in his 3 bottles of honey. Haughton pleaded, ensuring that there were no drugs in the bottles. But, it wasn’t enough.
Here was a man with no criminal record being accused by airport officials of smuggling liquid meth into the country.
After hearing the news, Haughton fainted. While he was taken to a local hospital to be checked out, he was also taken to jail soon after.
He appeared in court for a bail review two days after his arrest. A public defender notified the court that Haughton had no prior convictions and had lived in the area for the past nine years. A judge agreed to let him go on work release, court files and recordings of the hearing show. But more than three weeks later, Haughton was still behind bars.
His status as a legal permanent resident with a green card complicated his case. Because he was arrested at an airport for alleged drug felonies, his case triggered a federal detention order that extended his time in jail. Haughton spent a total of 82 days detained, causing him to lose both of his jobs.
Within 20-days of being detained, tests concluded that no drugs were in fact found in the bottles of honey. Yet, he remained in jail another 2 months.
“They messed up my life,” Haughton said. “I want the world to know that the system is not right. If I didn’t have strong people around me, they would probably leave me in jail. You’re lost in the system.”
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.