'This came out of left field': LaRoque able to breathe sigh of relief after nightmare in Honduras
Posted August 10
Raleigh, N.C. — Amanda LaRoque was able to take a sigh of relief Thursday morning as she spoke one-on-one with WRAL News about her nightmarish trip to Honduras.
Laroque, 51, was stuck in Honduras for more than a week after officials there believed she was carrying drugs. She had been checking out vacation houses in Roatan, an island off the Honduran coast, and was heading back to the U.S. when she was arrested at the airport late last month.
Laroque was actually carrying a "can safe," a fake Arizona Iced Tea can used by tourists to hide money and jewelry while on the beach. When airport security in Honduras asked to examine the can, they cut into the lining and found a substance authorities believed was cocaine. The substance later tested negative for narcotics, and Laroque was released after spending more than five days in jail.
On Wednesday, her passport was returned, and her journey back home began. She landed at Raleigh-Durham International Airport just after midnight Thursday and was greeted with open arms.
‘I had a minimum of four officers on me at all times’
LaRoque was headed back to the U.S. on July 30 when she said employees at the airport decided to randomly pull some luggage. The “can safe” quickly became a point of interest.
"They picked it up, and they shook it. I opened the top of the can to show them what it was," she said. "That's when everything went downhill."
LaRoque described moments of chaos as she quickly realized police officers were convinced she was smuggling drugs and was able to stop her friend from boarding the plane.
"There were 12 police officers there, all with some sort of machine gun," she said. "They brought in sniffing dogs, and they found nothing."
LaRoque and her friend, along with multiple police officers, embarked on what she described as an hour-long drive in the "dead of night" to the jail, which is called "the cage."
"I had a minimum of four officers on me at all times," she said. "When I got to the jail, they took everything...my jewelry, watch, phone."
"I was terrified. I had a panic attack. There is no air conditioning and I am just overwhelmed. I am just freaking out."
Her friend was able to contact people at home and put together a "social media army" that soon went viral.
When people in Honduras learned of LaRoque's story, they brought her sheets, a mattress, water and toilet paper.
"The people there were really kind," she said. "They would come pray with me and give me hugs."
'This was not something I've ever experienced'
LaRoque said the whole time she knew there were no drugs in the can, but at times she was terrified of what could possibly happen.
"I was worried about cross contamination. The can had been out of my possession for so much time," she said.
Her attorney was present when investigators cut open the can. LaRoque said ultimately that it took about two hours to break down the concrete-like substance in the can lining into a powder, which was tested for cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
On the day of the court hearing, she said, the Honduran district attorney walked in 45 minutes late with a piece of cake in her hand before calling witnesses.
"I don't know what she was trying to do," LaRoque said.
Ultimately, the drug test came back negative, and LaRoque was able to leave jail.
"This was not something I have ever experienced," she said. "I had been staying in a four-star resort. This came out of left field."
During the hour-long interview, LaRoque expressed thanks to everyone who came to her rescue during her time in Honduras.
"I had an army of people behind me who knew mw and knew there was no way there were drugs in (the can)," she said.
LaRoque said she is looking forward to seeing her friends, family and her bar guests at The Goat bar in west Raleigh, a business she and her husband own.
"I'm very much looking forward to going back to my low-key life," she joked.