Two South Florida women are being held in a jail in Cuba on charges that they attempted to smuggle synthetic marijuana, reported El Nuevo Herald.
Melissa Acosta, a 20-year-old with a learning disability, and another woman who was not identified had arrived at Havana’s José Martí International Airport and gone through customs when officials there stopped them for a checkup.
Synthetic marijuana, meant to mimic cannabis, contains dried shredded plant material and chemical additives, and have “a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Acosta’s mother denies her daughter carried the drug and accused the Cuban government of setting up her daughter and the other woman, whom she described as the mother of her son’s fiancé.
But previously Valdes had told the local CBS affiliate that Acosta traveled to Havana with her son’s fiancé, the couple’s baby and the mother of the fiancé, El Nuevo Herald said.
“I’m just shocked. I feel she’s been set up,” said Valdes to the station.
She added that her daughter has a learning disability and “she’s got the mind capacity of a 12- to 15-year-old, so imagine being over there not speaking a word of Spanish and being strip-searched.”
“I love her, I miss her (and) I want her home,” Valdes told the television station. “She’s scared but we’re going to figure it out. We’re going to find someone who will help her.”
Valdes said that the fiance’s family makes occasional trips to Cuba because of a business they own that involves taking suitcases to Cuba filled with goods to customers’ families and friends.
El Nuevo Herald said that relatives here are trying to find a lawyer in Cuba to represent the women. They also have reached out to U.S. government officials to ask them to intercede.
The U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana said it will assist the women, but didn’t offer more details, El Nuevo Herald said, because of confidentiality rules.
“I haven’t slept, I mean I’m scared, I want my daughter home. She’s a good girl. She’s never been in any trouble and I’m just scared for her,” Valdes said.