Local News

Raleigh woman stuck in Honduras has passport returned; officially back in US

Posted August 9

— A Raleigh woman who has been stuck in Honduras after being found innocent on drug charges had her passport returned Wednesday and is back in the United States.

Amanda LaRoque, 51, had been checking out 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.

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 had to sign for her to leave the country.

That district attorney was on vacation and did not return until today.

Amanda LaRoque

LaRoque landed in Houston Wednesday afternoon and was expected to land at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport just after midnight.

"I just want to see her get off the plane and know she's back here in Raleigh," said LaRoque's mother, Barbara Levy.

She describes the ordeal as a horror story.

"I still can't relax. I am still worried," Levy said.

LaRoque said she is thankful to those that helped her through her time in Honduras.

"To all of the locals who have been so extremely helpful to me, and so many of them have come by to say goodbye and give me hugs," she said. "It's just really sad this whole thing happened."


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  • Andrew Stephenson Aug 10, 1:45 p.m.
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    Geez, I had no idea so many people around here are so afraid of leaving the country. It actually explains a lot of political stances on things too. When you perceive the rest of the world as being some kind of 3rd world cesspool, this faux American Exceptionalism makes a lot more sense.

    I remember very clearly, my old 5th grade teacher explaining to the class what it's like to live somewhere outside of the US. She had this idea in her head that if you lived in the UK, you needed permission from the "King of England" if you wanted to have steak for dinner. Scared all of us. We believed her. Then I grew up. Traveled a bit, became more aware of how the rest of the world operates.

    I see not everyone else did.

  • John Archer Aug 10, 10:49 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Well, for what it's worth, looking at a map and doing some research shows that none of those places are anywhere near Roatan Islands. The Bay Islands are a huge tourist destination and have none of the problems of mainland Honduras.

  • Robin Koury Jr Aug 9, 11:18 p.m.
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    The news people are for some reason making a big deal out if this ..The State Dept plainly said back in January not to go to Honduras..Why would anyone want a retirement home there and why go there alone??..Probably catch some flak on this but common sense tells you not to go to countries that are having issues.. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to the Department of Gracias a Dios in Honduras. In addition, the greater urban areas of San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, and La Ceiba have notably high crime and violence rates. This replaces the Honduras Travel Warning dated August 5, 2016.

  • Jeff Freuler Aug 9, 10:29 p.m.
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    Well since WRAL has worn this story out now maybe they can move onto something else

  • Jim Frei Aug 9, 10:13 p.m.
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    I guess she didn't read the State Department or CIA memo - don't travel to Honduras.

  • Jeffrey Derry Aug 9, 7:20 p.m.
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    Don't go to Honduras

  • Cnc Stone Aug 9, 6:47 p.m.
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    Traveled the whole world from Canada to Kuwait never had a problem would leave out today no problem !

  • Chad Weaver Aug 9, 2:59 p.m.
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    Good for you Mandy!

  • Rusty Shackleford Aug 9, 2:24 p.m.
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    I'm actually too embarrassed to show my face overseas anyhow.

  • Anita Gibson Aug 9, 1:22 p.m.
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    I doubt she'll ever leave the country again. I got pulled at the border of Canada some years ago. The reason? He didn't think I was old enough to have grown children. My daughter was living there at the time. I was 46 but he said I didnt look thst old and thought I had faked documents. I had crossed the border many times before but this guy was not nice. He took ALL my documents. DL, car title, insurance papers, birth certificate. He thought it odd I didn't know my son in laws mothers name, she had been dead for uears and they had jist gotten married. He called in other guards and finally a supervisor, who recognized me from my last trip when he played with my cat (a long funny story). At that point I was in the phone with US immigration people explaining everything. Thankfully that supervisor got me released and he called my kids to let them know I was okay and on my way to Montreal. It was terrifying. I got sick at the border after that. I have NO desire to travel outside the US