An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth

Kelly McLaughlin

Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Leon Haughton told The Washington Post that he was stopped at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on December 29.

  • He said he was jailed after US Customs and Border Protection agents on December 29 alleged that the three jars of honey he had brought back from Jamaica were actually meth.

  • He remained in jail for 82 days even though state and federal lab tests determined the honey was actually honey.

  • Haughton, a Jamaican native and green card holder with no prior convictions, told The Post that this was the first time he had been stopped by customs in the 10 years he had been traveling back and forth to visit his mother.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Related Video: Mother Wrongly Jailed for Two Weeks Due to System Error

A Maryland man spent nearly three months in jail after US Customs and Border Protection agents at Baltimore's airport thought honey he had brought back from a trip to Jamaica was liquid meth.

Leon Haughton told The Washington Post that he was jailed for 82 days after officials at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport alleged that the three jars of honey were actually meth on December 29.

Twenty days after his arrest, a state police lab determined that the honey, which he bought at a roadside stand in Jamaica, was in fact honey, not methamphetamine. And so the felony drug charges were dropped. But he remained in jail because, as a green card holder, the felony charges had triggered an immigration detainer.

He wasn't released until charges were dropped entirely when a federal lab test confirmed there were no drugs in the honey.

Haughton, a Jamaican native and green card holder with no prior convictions, told The Post that this was the first time he had been stopped by customs in the 10 years he had been traveling back and forth to visit his mother.

Charging documents seen by The Post said that prior to Haughton's arrest, officers told Haughton that the honey bottles, which were clear, had gold-colored screw tops, and were labeled "honey," tested positive for methamphetamine.

Read more: Border Patrol has never vaccinated the migrant children it apprehends. Doctors say it's time for that to change.

The felony drug counts were dropped to misdemeanors on January 23, after lab tests first detected no drugs in the honey. But because an immigration detainer was triggered because of his green card status, Haughton remained in jail on misdemeanor charges instead of being granted bail.

Haughton's lawyer, Terry Morris, tried to contact US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to lift the detainer, but the government was in the midst of a shutdown and he was unable to reach anyone.

Haughton was finally released from jail on March 21, after 82 days spending incarcerated, when a federal test determined the bottles were in fact filled with honey.

Now he's trying to put his life back together. After losing his job while in jail, he is now working as a bread truck driver.

"I'm scared to even travel right now," Haughton told The Post. "You're innocent, and you can end up in jail."

NOW WATCH: This hotel harvests its own honey in the middle of NYC