North Carolina Woman Was Arrested And Charged For Alleged Drug Trafficking While Searching For Her Family’s Dream Vacation Home In Honduras
by Heather Cassell
A North Carolina woman on vacation searching for her family’s vacation home was arrested for alleged drug trafficking in Honduras earlier this week.
Amanda “Mandy” LaRoque was at the Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport in Roatan returning home after house hunting with her friend when police stopped her and searched her Sunday, July 30.
Roatan is a popular island resort destination for tourists located about an hour and a half off Honduras’ mainland by boat.
They found an empty “can safe” in for form of a fake Arizona Iced Tea can where she was storing her valuables while traveling.
It was the first time Mandy had traveled outside of the United States in many years. She didn’t trust hotel safes, so she was carrying the disguised safe that she bought for traveling.
Similar safes convert soda cans, peanut butter jars, and water bottles are popular and widely available on Amazon and other online shopping sites.
The police didn’t trust that the white powder that fell from the can when they cut it open wasn’t cocaine, so they arrested her and placed her in a cell known as “The Cage,” according to media reports.
The family tells the media it’s a huge misunderstanding, but that the Central American country’s authorities are holding Mandy until lab results are returned from the mainland where the substance from the can was allegedly sent. Obtaining the results could take up to 10 days, reports WRAL News, a local news station.
The can wasn’t sent to the mainland until today (Wednesday, August 2), according to a Facebook post on Mandy’s page posted by her husband Brandon LaRoque.
Since the beginning of the ordeal, Mandy and Brandon have been documenting the situation on Facebook.
The Honduran attorney the family hired is overseeing the process, but Mandy and her family don’t trust that the fake can hasn’t been tampered with and she can’t be framed by the local authorities, she has been telling various media outlets.
“In the back of my mind, I’m worried that they’re going to try to frame her,” Mandy’s 73-year old mother Barbara Levy, who lives in Cary, tells the local news station. “They’re just going to send this can off and say, ‘Oh well, you know, there was drugs in it,’ and that’s it. Until she is home, I’m just a nervous wreck.”
If convicted, Mandy could go to prison for 15 to 25 years, says Brandon.
“Fifteen to 25 years for carrying a hollowed-out iced tea can,” he reiterated.
Mandy is being held without bond until her court hearing schedule for this Friday, reports WRAL News.
“This whole thing is just so ridiculous,” Barbara tells NBC News claiming that the substance is plaster or a similar material. “It’s such a horror. You just can’t believe it.”
“I promise you 1,000 percent this is not cocaine. We are not cocaine traffickers,” Brandon tells WRAL News by phone Tuesday as he rode in the back of a pickup with armed guards taking his wife to a hospital.
Making matters worse, the cramped conditions Mandy recorded on her phone’s video camera and her friend posted on Facebook and the heat got to her. She needed medical attention by Monday. Honduran authorities refused to get her to a doctor, even though a doctor recommended it.
“Somebody really needs to help me,” Mandy says, reports NBC News.
The La Roque family has contacted the U.S. Embassy in Honduras and U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina for assistance.
“We are working with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Honduras to see what we can do and we will continue to work on the case,” Tills tells constituents during a Tuesday night town hall hosted on Facebook. “Hopefully, we can produce a good outcome for Mrs. LaRoque.”
A representative of the U.S. State Department couldn’t comment on the situation, but noted that the government is aware that a U.S. citizen is being detained in Honduras, according to media reports.
Honduran officials didn’t respond to media requests for comment.
The family has also publicly appealed to anyone who could help them through this situation by putting pressure on the Honduras government to release Mandy.
In the meantime, Mandy received medical attention and was moved from “The Cage” to a different cell within the local police station on Tuesday. Her husband has also been allowed to stay with her, reports CBS North Carolina/WNCN.
Expatriates and locals have also poured into the police station bringing Mandy food, water, and other basic supplies, according to media reports.
Mandy recorded another video her husband posted to Facebook following her visit to the hospital and relocation in the jail.
“I just want everyone to know that I’m well. They took me to the hospital. They gave me an IV. I just got overcome by the heat,” she says in the message posted on Facebook by her husband.
“She’s doing better than she was before when she was in ‘The Cage,’ but it’s like living in a bad nightmare,” Brandon says in his own video post on Facebook. “This was to become our dream place, and it’s become our nightmare.”
The co-owner of the popular The Goat Bar, located on Western Boulevard in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Brandon was having a good time in Honduras until her arrest, says Barbara.
Mandy and her daughter were planning to travel to Nicaragua two weeks later to continue their house hunting, she tells the media outlet. It’s unclear what the family’s future vacation home plans are following this ordeal.
Book your next romantic getaway to the Caribbean with Girls That Roam Travel. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at 415-517-7239 or at .
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