- Leon Haughton told The Washington Post that he was stopped at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on December 29.
- He said he was jailed after US Customs and Border Protection agents on December 29 alleged that the three jars of honey he had brought back from Jamaica were actually meth.
- He remained in jail for 82 days even though state and federal lab tests determined the honey was actually honey.
- Haughton, a Jamaican native and green card holder with no prior convictions, told The Post that this was the first time he had been stopped by customs in the 10 years he had been travelling back and forth to visit his mother.
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A Maryland man spent nearly three months in jail after US Customs and Border Protection agents at Baltimore’s airport thought honey he had brought back from a trip to Jamaica was liquid meth.
Leon Haughton told The Washington Post that he was jailed for 82 days after officials at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport alleged that the three jars of honey were actually meth on December 29.
Twenty days after his arrest, a state police lab determined that the honey, which he bought at a roadside stand in Jamaica, was in fact honey, not methamphetamine. And so the felony drug charges were dropped. But he remained in jail because, as a green card holder, the felony charges had triggered an immigration detainer.
He wasn’t released until charges were dropped entirely when a federal lab test confirmed there were no drugs in the honey.
Haughton, a Jamaican native and green card holder with no prior convictions, told The Post that this was the first time he had been stopped by customs in the 10 years he had been travelling back and forth to visit his mother.
Charging documents seen by The Post said that prior to Haughton’s arrest, officers told Haughton that the honey bottles, which were clear, had gold-coloured screw tops, and were labelled “honey,” tested positive for methamphetamine.
The felony drug counts were dropped to misdemeanours on January 23, after lab tests first detected no drugs in the honey. But because an immigration detainer was triggered because of his green card status, Haughton remained in jail on misdemeanour charges instead of being granted bail.
Haughton’s lawyer, Terry Morris, tried to contact US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to lift the detainer, but the government was in the midst of a shutdown and he was unable to reach anyone.
Haughton was finally released from jail on March 21, after 82 days spending incarcerated, when a federal test determined the bottles were in fact filled with honey.
Now he’s trying to put his life back together. After losing his job while in jail, he is now working as a bread truck driver.
“I’m scared to even travel right now,” Haughton told The Post. “You’re innocent, and you can end up in jail.”
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