Local News

'I'm hostage to this island': Raleigh woman worried she won't be able to leave Honduras

Posted August 7

— A Raleigh woman who was found innocent on drug charges and has been stuck in Honduras for more than a week is still waiting to return to the United States.

Amanda LaRoque, 51, had been checking out houses in Roatan, on an island off the Honduran coast, and was heading back to the U.S. when she was arrested at the airport late last month.

She was carrying a "can safe," a fake Arizona Iced Tea can used by tourists to hide money and jewelry while on the beach, and airport security asked to examine it. When they found the can was empty, they cut into the lining and found a substance authorities believed was cocaine. On Friday, the substance tested negative for narcotics, and she was released from jail.

LaRoque's attorney filed paperwork to have her passport returned around 4 p.m. Friday, but the Honduran district attorney must sign for her to leave the country.

Amanda LaRoque

That district attorney is on vacation on the mainland of Honduras and will not return to the island until Wednesday. The prosecutor also filed an "innocent but on probation" appeal, meaning if LaRoque were to visit the island within five years and faced legal issues, the government could revisit the case.

The Honduran government has her passport and is refusing to return it. She does not understand why it is taking so long for the U.S. government to help.

"We've got the most powerful government in the world, and you mean to tell me as an innocent tourist that came to this country that there's nothing you can do to get me out of here? I just don't believe this," LaRoque said via FaceTime with WRAL on Monday afternoon.

LaRoque learned that there is a chance the district attorney is now appealing the case, and that she could be kept in Honduras during the process.

"When everything came back negative, they should have been coming to my rescue," she said. "I'm an innocent person, and they are not letting me leave."

"My fear is they're not going to let me leave the country during the appeal process because they're going to come up with something else to charge me with," LaRoque said. "The only reason for them to keep me here is they're trying to find something, to pin something else on me and put me back in jail, to create new charges. I had no drugs, it’s concrete. I don't know what more I can do."

While in custody, LaRoque had to be taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment, though in a Facebook video she said Honduran police had treated her well.

"We’re disappointed that Amanda has not been able to return home yet. Senator Tillis’ office will continue to work closely with the U.S. embassy on a resolution so she can leave Honduras and return to North Carolina as soon as possible," a spokesperson for Sen. Thom Tillis' office said.

Jose Castillo, LaRoque's attorney, said he had never "in his life" seen a case like this.

"This has been ridiculous from the start," he said. "It makes no sense."

LaRoque and her husband, Brandon LaRoque, own The Goat bar on Western Boulevard in Raleigh.


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  • Connie Johnson Aug 8, 2:10 p.m.
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    Bottom Line is buy a house in the US and you won't have to worry about some other country's laws. We have so many freedoms here. Ignorance is not always bliss.

  • Van Peterson Aug 8, 1:57 p.m.
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    There is something everyone can do; Don't go to Honduras on vacation, let them find their tourists somewhere else. I agree; why hasn't the US government stepped in?? Apparently not many people are sympathetic. Honduras should admit they were over zealous apologize for her delay and let he go home!

  • Tri Putnam Aug 8, 12:53 p.m.
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    Where is Tillerson accompanied by 2 security police and a DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT. He should put the country on the not safe to visit list, and Rhotan can watch all the cruise ships pass by

  • Len White Aug 8, 9:11 a.m.
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    Sounds like an over-zealous border agent made a mistake and just doesn’t have the fruit to admit it …. Unfortunately this sort of thing happens all over – not just in Honduras….

  • Lori Coble Aug 8, 8:48 a.m.
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    Wow, I really can't believe some of these comments! She wanted a vacation home on an island off the coast of Honduras, which are beautiful islands btw!! I've been to Roatan a few times and yes, there are impoverished areas where there is drugs and crime, but hello; we have that here too! Don't judge a country or area on what you read, if that's the case imagine what other countries think of the US right now! She didn't ask to be in this position, in retrospect she probably should have left the jewelry at home, but could of, should of isn't helping her right now! Btw, missions of people travel to areas in the Caribbean, which includes Central America, yearly and get home safely!

  • NC Tom Aug 8, 8:09 a.m.
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    "play stupid games, win stupid prizes"

  • Stacie Hagwood Aug 8, 5:57 a.m.
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    I don't get her wrath against the US for not "rescuing" her. Same with the dude who went to N Korea and tried to swipe a "souvenir." You knew it was an alligator when you hitched a ride across the swamp.

  • Andrew Stephenson Aug 7, 8:58 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Geez, that's some serious 5th grade misunderstanding to what the rest of the world is like. I take it you don't travel much.

  • Kelly Birdsall Aug 7, 8:03 p.m.
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    Well Honduras, this certainly doesn't help you encourage tourism but maybe that's what u want.

  • Wayne R. Douglas Aug 7, 7:11 p.m.
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    You went there woman. You were only in search of some very cheap land, in a very cheap country. Now you know why it's a very cheap country.