CRIME

N. Carolina woman relieved to be home after Honduras ordeal

A North Carolina woman detained in Honduras says she is relieved to be home after authorities mistook a soda can-shaped safe for drugs.

Amanda Laroque, who owns a bar in Raleigh, was held in jail for several days after she was arrested at the airport on July 30 on the Caribbean island of Roatan. She landed in Raleigh just after midnight Thursday.

She told WRAL-TV during a lengthy interview that she's thankful for the support of friends on social media and local news organizations for helping to spread her story.

"I'm so glad to be home," she told the news station Thursday.

She had been in Roatan with a friend scouting locations for a possible vacation or retirement home. She said she was in the airport about to board her flight when her name was called on a loudspeaker. Officers then searched her bag and found a safe for keeping valuables on the beach made to look like an Arizona Iced Tea can.

After finding the can, officers with machine guns brought drug-sniffing dogs to examine it.

"I'm in a foreign country. Are they looking to set me up for something? I don't know what's going on politically," she said.

Authorities tested the can safe's cement-like lining for drugs. Tests came back negative, and a judge ruled last Friday to drop drug charges against her, she said. She said the local district attorney caused unnecessary delays during and after what she thought would be a quick hearing.

"She shows up 45 minutes late with a piece of birthday cake in her hand," Laroque said, adding that the prosecutor called several witnesses. "I don't know what she was trying to do."

She left jail but had to wait days longer to get her passport back from the local district attorney who went on vacation.

Finally her lawyer on Roatan was able to get the passport returned on Wednesday, and she boarded a plane off the island.

She said she's looking forward to seeing family and friends, as well as customers at the bar she and her husband own in Raleigh.

"I'm very much looking forward to going back to my low-key life," she said.