Local News

Raleigh woman gets medical treatment while in Honduran custody

Posted August 1

— A Raleigh woman facing what her family calls bogus drug charges in Honduras had to be taken from a jail to a hospital Tuesday for medical treatment.

Amanda LaRoque, who owns The Goat bar on Western Boulevard with her husband, was arrested Sunday at a Honduran airport while returning to the U.S. from a trip to check out possible retirement vacation homes.

She was carrying a "can safe," a fake Arizona Iced Tea can where tourists can hide money and jewelry while on the beach, and airport security examined it. Although the can was empty, the lining used to give the can some weight was breached, and authorities thought the white powdery substance that spilled out was cocaine.

"I promise you 1,000 percent this is not cocaine. We are not cocaine traffickers," her husband, Brandon LaRoque, said by phone Tuesday as he rode in the back of a pickup with armed guards taking his wife to a hospital.

Authorities had been holding Amanda LaRoque in a jail nicknamed "The Cage."

"She threw up. Her blood pressure was going sky high," said her mother, Barbara Levy, who lives in Cary. "I have really been crazy about this situation. I'm just worried about her. I just want her home."

Amanda LaRoque was able to record a grainy cellphone video after she returned to jail to let people know she was OK.

"I just want everyone to know that I'm well. They took me to the hospital. They gave me an IV. I just got overcome by the heat," she said.

The police have treated her well, and locals have been bringing her water, food and toilet paper in jail, she said.

"I feel like, if we don't say something, she's just going to get left here, you know," Brandon LaRoque said. "I wish the American government would send some U.S. citizen to see the conditions we're in. They would not believe it."

Later Tuesday, authorities moved Amanda LaRoque out of the primitive cave-like conditions of "The Cage" to a bare room with a mattress inside the police station.

"She's doing better than she was before when she was in The Cage, but it's like living in a bad nightmare," Brandon LaRoque said. "This was to become our dream place, and it's become our nightmare."

She is being held without bond and has a court hearing scheduled for Friday.

The family is working with the U.S. embassy in Honduras and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis' office to resolve the situation.

"We are working with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Honduras to see what we can do and we will continue to work on the case," said Tills during a Tuesday night town hall hosted on Facebook. "Hopefully we can produce a good outcome for Mrs. LaRoque."

"They're saying she could go to prison for 15 to 25 years for this. Fifteen to 25 years for carrying a hollowed-out iced tea can," Brandon LaRoque said.

Authorities said it could take another week or so to test the powdery substance from the can safe to determine if it's cocaine, and Levy said she worries that Honduran authorities will fake the results.

"In the back of my mind, I'm worried that they're going to try to frame her," she said. "They're just going to send this can off and say, 'Oh well, you know, there was drugs in it,' and that's it. Until she is home, I'm just a nervous wreck."

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