A Jamaican named Leon Haughton was detained for nearly three months in the United States after bringing back bottles of honey from the Caribbean Island that customs officials mistakenly suspected of being liquid methamphetamine.
Haughton’s long test began on December 29, 2018 at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport when customs officers asked a dog to sniff his luggage. Inside, they found three bottles properly labeled as honey, which Haughton, a 45-year-old father of three, uses in his tea.
According to the indictment, the officers suspected him of transporting liquid methamphetamine and detained him. Maryland’s laboratory results took more than two weeks to arrive: they were negative. Haughton thought it was the end. He was wrong.
The bottles were sent to a second laboratory in Georgia after the first was deemed insufficiently equipped to analyze the liquids. Despite having a green card granting him legal resident status in the United States, Haughton’s arrest triggered a detention process with the US Immigration Service.
His lawyer had great difficulty in contacting the immigration authorities and for good reason. The US government was partially closed following a budget stalemate between President Donald Trump and the Democrats over his request for funding for the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico.
Tests in Georgia, meanwhile, finally confirmed that Haughton was actually carrying honey. He was released on March 21, 82 days after returning from vacation. Unable to work for three months and away from his children, Haughton lost both his job as a cleaner and a construction worker.
“They ruined everything in my life,” he said, evoking a hard test that even honey would be unable to sweeten.