A woman was detained in a Mexican jail after customs officials found over-the-counter Sudafed in her purse.
Utah couple Jessica and Jordan Carver landed at the airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on March 28 for a family vacation, KSL reported. Before they could make their way to the resort from the airport, however, they were flagged for a customs violation.
"They looked through our bags, and [the customs agent] was going through my purse and found my Sudafed," Jessica told KSL. According to Jordan, a man then informed the couple that Sedated was "a substance that's not allowed in Mexico." Jessica, who had seven or eight Sudafed pills still in their original packaging, said she thought they’d clear up the issue in a couple of hours. She was instead detained for 24 hours.
After being held at the airport for nearly seven hours, Jessica was presented documents in Spanish that stated she was admitting to breaking the law — which she refused to sign. She was then told she’d have to be taken to the local district attorney's office. "Two other guys came up and grabbed me and threw me down on the chair while two other girls grabbed Jessica and were yanking her out of her chair," Jordan said.
Jessica said the encounter left her with a sore arm the following day.
The couple was then taken to a building with several holding cells, where Jessica stayed overnight under guard. The next morning, authorities escorted her to a doctor's office for an exam.
"My examination consisted of 'how much do you weigh, do you have any tattoos, do you have any scars, are you sick?'" she said. The young woman was freed after negotiations took place between local authorities, an official from the U.S. Consulate in Mexico, and an attorney the family hired for $1,500. The couple said they believed they were the victims of a customs scam. "We were floored and we were dumbfounded that this had happened because of the Sudafed,” Jessica said. “I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong, and it was just frustrating. We felt like we had no rights."
She added that at some point during the 24-hour detainment, she was asked to obtain a doctor's note or prescription for the pills but her relatives were allowed to hand the document through security. Once Jessica was freed, officials asked her whether she wanted her Sudafed back and told they could buy more at the local pharmacy. The couple added that the resort where they were staying also sold similar medication.
This was not the first time Americans traveling to Mexico have been detained for possessing over-the-counter medicine and forced to pay thousands of dollars to be let go. A 60-year-old Chicago man was detained in Puerto Vallarta after customs agents found sinus medication in his luggage, CBS 2 reported. He was released after his fiancee, with whom he was traveling to celebrate their engagement, hired an attorney for $2,500.
Sources: KSL, CBS 2 / Photo Credit: Adam Sotelo/KSL, ParentingPatch/Wikimedia Commons