'Can safe' lands woman in Honduras jail

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017 05:15PM
Elizabeth Hur reports on the woman who's trip to Honduras turned into a nightmare when she was charged with cocaine trafficking.


RALEIGH, North Carolina - A North Carolina woman's trip to Honduras turned into a nightmare after she was charged with trafficking cocaine -- but her husband said the white powder authorities found was not the drug, rather residue from a "Can Safe" container.

Amanda LaRoque, of Raleigh, remains in a Honduran jail awaiting lab test results that will determine whether or not she was smuggling cocaine into the United States.

LaRoque and her husband, Brandon LaRoque, visited the Honduran islands of Roatan and Utila with a friend to tour properties with a real estate investor. Before leaving the states, Amanda Laroque bought a "Can Safe," a mini-personal safe designed to look like a soft drink can, and packed it with her, Brandon LaRoque said.

Amanda's "Can Safe" is disguised as an Arizona Iced Tea. Its lid can screw off so cash and valuables can be placed inside. Since the can is lined with plastic and weighted, it feels like a full drink.

"We noticed that Utila is a little more primitive and the hotels weren't quite as nice, so they didn't have safes in them," Brandon LaRoque told our sister station WTVD.

As the LaRoques were at the Honduran airport preparing to fly back to the United States, security agents stopped them and asked to look at the "Can Safe." Brandon LaRoque said the agents cut it open, and white particles from the lining fell out. Agents assumed it was cocaine.

"They've actually arrested her and thrown her in jail for possession and trafficking of cocaine," Brandon LaRoque said. "And I'm on my way down there to try to get her out. They've actually put her in something ... I guess they call it 'the cage' on the island."

Amanda LaRoque in custody in Honduras.



Speaking to WTVD by phone, Amanda LaRoque described the suffocating conditions of her incarceration.

"They're holding me in an 8x12 pen, that's un-air-conditioned; no beds, no mattresses, on a concrete floor," Amanda LaRoque said. "There's no ventilation, there's just one window with little bars and the door."

She described her situation as a "nightmare."

"This stuff is so crazy. I don't think you can make it up," Amanda LaRoque added. "I mean this is over an iced tea soda can."

After the call, Amanda LaRoque vomited in court and her attorney is trying to get her transferred to a hospital, Brandon LaRogue said.

WATCH: Brandon LaRoque pleads for help on Facebook:




Brandon LaRoque claimed authorities said the Roatan airport didn't have field testing kits for the cocaine. It takes 10 days to get results from a lab test.

U.S. officials are aware of the LaRogue's situation. Currently, a U.S. embassy representative is in Roatan on Amanda LaRoque's behalf.

WTVD went to the same local retailer where the LaRoques bought their "Can Safe" and purchased one. Staff cut it open with a saw. While some white particles fell out of the lining, they reported it smelling like plastic.

ABC11 purchased and cut open our own can safe and while some white particles fell out of the lining, they looked and smelled like plastic



Brandon LaRoque also sent WTVD a video of a drug dog checking out his wife's bag at the airport. It shows the dog sniffing but not reacting to any drugs.

But WTVD spoke with a drug dog trainer in Raleigh who said it's hard to say if the dog was alert or not without knowing how it was trained to alert.

Drug dog searches LaRoque's bag


LaRoque said he wants to alert others to what has happened to his wife so they won't make the same mistake.

"It's crazy. I mean, I feel like I'm in a dream right now."

Amanda LaRoque has another court hearing set for Friday.
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