By Stacey Leasca
August 28, 2019

All Leon Haughton wanted to do was get home after Christmas. After spending a few days with his family in his birthplace of Jamaica he boarded a plane back to Baltimore. However, instead of the usual three-hour flight, it took Leon nearly three months to get home.

You see, while heading to the airport in Jamaica, Haughton made a stop at his favorite roadside stand selling honey. He brought it on the flight. On arrival, customs searched his luggage and found the honey. But, they didn’t believe Haughton about its contents as a field test showed the containers tested positive for methamphetamine, CNN reported. So, authorities placed Hughton under arrest. He then spent the next three months in holding as they tested the honey they believed to be drugs.

“They messed up my life,” Haughton told The Washington Post about his ordeal. “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.”

Leon Haughton, at his home in Bowie, Maryland, says he was wrongly imprisoned when customs officers accused him of trying to bring liquid meth back to the United States during his recent trip to visit family in Jamaica. Haughton bought three bottles of honey from a bee farm during his vacation. The "liquid meth" lab tests later confirmed it was honey. Now Haughton is planning to sue the people who kept him in jail for weeks, losing his job and worrying his family.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

According to The Washington Post, during his time in jail Haughton lost his job. Even now, months after his release, he is still rebuilding. After 20 days, a second test came back showing the containers had nothing in them but nectar, The Washington Post reported. Yet, somehow, it would be two more months before he was let out.

"Once I came out, all my insurances collapsed, my credit was destroyed," he additionally told CNN. "I lost my job, everything. They just left me a mess."

The reason for his extended jail stay, The Post reported, was due to Haughton’s status as a legal permanent resident of the United States with a green card. His arrest triggered a federal detention order, the paper noted, that extended his time in jail.

“It’s not unusual that people who are held in criminal custody with ICE detainers have their detentions prolonged and then the charges are dismissed,” Emma Winger, a staff attorney for the American Immigration Council, told The Washington Post.

Finally, after those three months, well after the tests came back negative, and after Haughton’s third bail review, he got to go home. Still, the damage to his life has been done. “I’m scared to even travel right now,” Haughton told The Washington Post. “You’re innocent, and you can end up in jail.”

According to CNN, customs offered to give him his honey back. He declined their offer.

Advertisement