Things That Matter

This Innocent Man’s Life Is In Ruins After Police Jailed Him For Smuggling Meth, Turns Out It Was Just Honey

All too often travel can be a very stressful experience. There’s the whole act of flying itself which for many is downright terrifying. Then you’re either rushing and still end up late or having to waste a couple of hours in an airport trying not to blow all your cash on an $8 bottle of water. Factor in traffic to and from the airport and having to pack and wait in line after line – yea, traveling can kind of suck sometimes.

But for one Maryland man, his last trip was at a whole other level of stressful and it turned into three months of absolute chaos. 

You see, on his return trip from Jamaica he was accused of flying with liquid meth.

Leon Haughton, who has lived in Maryland for 10 years, had gone back to visit his family in Jamaica over Christmas.

The 45-year-old had bought three bottles of honey from his favorite roadside stand to bring back with him.

His long ordeal started on December 29 when he landed back at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and customs agents had a dog sniff his bags. He assumed the dogs had sniffed the KFC chicken he had in his bag but was surprised when agents seized the three bottles of honey he uses to sweeten his tea.

The agents told him they suspected him of transporting liquid methamphetamine.

‘I’m 100 percent sure I don’t have drugs. I only have honey,’ Haughton recalls telling the agents, according to the Washington Post.  He fainted after they placed him in detention and he was taken to jail. 

While the authorities waited for test results, Haughton languished in jail for 82 days.

Haughton and his attorney Terry Morris believe he was stereotyped because of his race. They said he was questioned while in custody about a ‘big Jamaican gang and drug dealing conspiracy’.

The laboratory results from Maryland took more than two weeks to arrive and they came back negative.  Authorities then sent the bottles to a second laboratory in Georgia after the first was judged to be insufficiently equipped to analyze the liquids.

Although he had a green card granting him legal residence in the U.S., Haughton’s arrest set in motion a detention process with immigration. Since Houghton is not a U.S. citizen, the arrest put him at risk of being deported – not to mention the stress his family endured as they waited for his release.

The tests in Georgia, meanwhile, finally confirmed that Haughton was indeed transporting honey. The charges were dropped and he was freed on March 21 after 82 days in custody.

Call me naive but I didn’t even know liquid meth was a thing.

According to officials, liquid meth is a fairly new form of methamphetamine. Meth will be liquified and placed into familiar bottles (usually just for easier transport) and then the liquid will be boiled away leaving pure meth for the user.

For Houghton, this whole ordeal has cost him his livelihood.

Unable to work for three months and far from his six children, Haughton lost his two jobs as a cleaner and construction worker.

‘They messed up my life,’ he said. ‘I want the world to know that the system is not right. If I didn’t have strong people around me, they would probably leave me in jail. You’re lost in the system.’

‘I’m scared to even travel right now. You’re innocent, and you can end up in jail.’

OK, so the cops totally got this wrong but there actually have been cases of people smuggling in liquid meth.

Just this past May, a Border Patrol agent and his canine partner assigned to the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol Station seized approximately 118 pounds of liquid methamphetamine, worth almost four million dollars. The drugs were loaded into plastic bottles and transported over the border.

Meanwhile in Australia, smugglers are trying to sneak in liquid meth inside of snow globes.

I mean we obviously don’t condone trafficking in drugs, but I will say that’s a very creative method.

But many on Twitter were shocked at the apparent mismanagement of the entire situation.

Eventually, the charges were dropped, though officials have yet to apologize to Houghton for leaving his life in ruins. He has since lost his job as a cleaner and watched his credit score dramatically decrease due to the bills that piled up. Friends have even cut off contact.

“My kids are stressed out, my mom. Everybody was stressed out over everything. It’s a lot of stuff I’m going through,” he said. “Nobody contacted me. Nobody tell me sorry, nobody do nothing.”

Customs and Border Protection officials simply told NBC Washington that they are “reviewing procedures” while providing no information. Houghton still has not been issued an apology despite his story prompting massive outrage on social media.

With one Twitter user, @boerneman, saying “It should have never taken 82 days to do the second test to confirm what the substance was. He should file a federal civil rights lawsuit against all involved. This is a prime example of  incompetence and mismanagement.”

“He lost his 2 jobs. There’s No compensation for losing his jobs, jailed for 82 days … for NOTHING. The 3 bottles were indeed HONEY never Liquid Meth. The man got his credit messed up. It Never takes 82 freaking days to get Honey tested. The miscarriage of Justice against POC,” said another user.

This Shipment Of Jalapeños Turned Out To Be One Of The Year’s Biggest Marijuana Busts

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This Shipment Of Jalapeños Turned Out To Be One Of The Year’s Biggest Marijuana Busts

@high_times_mag / Twitter

OK…so recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states (plus D.C.) and medical marijuana is legal in even more – 34 to be exact. But that doesn’t mean that cartels from south of the border aren’t continuing their trade here in the US since they often offer less expensive marijuana to customers across the US.

And as the Trump administration’s increased enforcement at the border continues, we are seeing more frequent drug busts like this one at ports of entry from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas.

Nearly four tons of marijuana were packed alongside red hot jalapeños.

Border patrol officers at a port of entry in San Diego discovered nearly four tons of marijuana hidden beneath a shipment of jalapeños, officials said.

Officers assigned to the Otay Mesa cargo facility in California discovered the large amount of weed, worth about $2.3 million, wrapped in green packaging and stashed under a mountain of red jalapeño peppers, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

A CBP officer referred the truck to secondary check when a canine team alerted to them to the shipment of peppers. 

The officer then discovered and extracted 314 large wrapped packages of marijuana, weighing 7,560 pounds, within the shipment of jalapeño peppers.

But as more states legalize marijuana, we are seeing fewer and fewer drug busts like this one.

The decline in marijuana seizures at the US-Mexico border started in 2014, the year that Colorado and Washington became the first states in the US to legalize the sale of recreational weed to adults. Nine other states, including California, the country’s most populous and wealthiest state, as well as DC, have since legalized recreational use, further eating away at cartels’ market share.

CBP congratulated the officers on the bust.

“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” Otay Mesa Port Director, Rosa Hernandez, said in a statement.

“Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”

Of course, upon news of the major pot bust, Twitter erupted with plenty of reactions.

Many were excited to for a possible new strain of spicy pot…or hot pot. Some were taking ideas from this seizure and hoping growers would take advantage and maybe soon offer up a jalapeño flavored marijuana strand at dispensaries in states with legal weed.

While others were just in awe of the amount of weed found.

I mean 4 tons of weed…that’s more than 125,000 ounces of bud. Do the math and figure out how many joints that is…it’s a lot that’s for sure.

While some speculated that maybe the smugglers were hoping to create an entirely new market.

I mean it would definitely be a new product on the market and one that could do really well, especially in Southern California – where weed and jalapeños are as American as baseball and apple pie.

Customs And Border Protections Chief Mark Morgan Defended The Mississippi Raids Despite Children Left Without Parents

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Customs And Border Protections Chief Mark Morgan Defended The Mississippi Raids Despite Children Left Without Parents

U.S. Customs and Border Protections / Flickr / @RAICESTEXAS / Twitter

The video of Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, 11, weeping as she’s seen being interviewed pleading for the return of her father, went viral last week. It captured the heartbreak and outrage many felt when news broke that the Justice Department and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency apprehended over 680 people in a joint operation at several food processing plans in Mississippi. The raid was the largest single-state arrest in U.S. history with efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and left many children like Gomez without their parents.

“Government, please put your heart — let my parents be free with everybody else, please,” Gomez says as she weeps in front of reporters. “I need my dad … mommy,” the girl cries as she speaks with a local television station outside a gym. “My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.”

On Sunday, acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan was put on the spot when he was interviewed by CNN anchor Jake Tapper. It was then that Morgan downplayed the emotional video of Gomez crying.

Customs and Border Protections (CBP) Chief Mark Morgan downplayed the video of a young child grieving her father's detention claiming he did break laws.
Credit: @CNNpolitics / Twitter

Tapper pressed Morgan on the issue of immigration and the outrage that has followed since news of the raids broke last Wednesday. The acting CBP commissioner said during the interview that he understands much of the anger and sorrow that people are feeling after watching the video but defended the agency’s work. 

“I understand that the girl is upset and I get that. But her father committed a crime,” Morgan told Tapper on “State of the Union.” Morgan then went on to say that the girl would be reunited with her mother shortly after the video was shot. “I know it’s emotional and I know it’s done on purpose to show a picture like that.”

Morgan noted that employment of undocumented people is not a victimless crime. He mentioned that many of them illegal citizens take part in unlawful practices such as social security and other identity fraud.

“Her father committed a crime, and just so the American people know also is that girl — her mother was home and she was reunited with her mother within a few hours that night,” Morgan said. “How about interview the people that — because a majority of time in the cases, these individuals that are here illegally, they also steal identities of US citizens, they get fraudulent documents, social security cards, and et cetera and so it is not just a victimless crime that’s going on here.”

Morgan was also pressed on the question of why ICE hadn’t conducted any raids or investigations into President Trump’s eight properties given reports that the clubs and hotels employ undocumented people.

Credit: @Vox / Twitter

The Washington Post reported last Friday that a Trump-owned construction company has been employing undocumented immigrants for a number of years. In return, this has raised questions about how the Trump Organization has followed in its own steps and on its pledge to more carefully scrutinize the legal status of its workers. Tapper asked Morgan about the report but failed to give any solid details on the investigation. 

“This is just one of many headlines about undocumented immigrants working for President Trump’s properties—whether it’s his construction crews, [people] working at his properties [or people] working at his golf clubs. There have been zero raids on any of these companies despite headline after headline after headline,” Tapper asked Morgan.

“You really can’t say that for sure,” Morgan responded. “There are investigations going on all the time that you’re unaware of. … Of course, it’s going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that’s going on.”

The employment of workers without legal status is an issue that the Trump administration has attempted to take on. The hiring of undocumented workers gives a company a competitive advantage, industry officials told the Washington Post. they note that undocumented laborers are less likely to complain if they’re being mistreated at work or take on employers for malpractice. 

Former Trump Organization employee Jorge Castro, 55,  told the Washington Post that he left the company in April after nine years. He said that while Trump has rallied against illegal immigration he has often been the one employing them. 

“If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter,” Castro said. Trump “doesn’t want undocumented people in the country but at his properties, he still has them.”

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