A U.S. citizen had her vacation to Puerto Vallarta ruined by a detour to jail after customs officials discovered a box of the decongestant Sudafed in her luggage.
Pseudoephedrine (the active ingredient in Sudafed) has been a banned substance in Mexico for more than a decade. The chemical is one of the principal ingredients used for methamphetamines. The sale and possession of all medicines containing pseudoephedrine are prohibited in Mexico, regardless of their legality in other countries.
Taking Sudafed tablets prior to flights has long been recommended by doctors as a means of alleviating excess pressure in the middle ear that can cause discomfort and pain, especially as planes descend.
Jessica Carver and her husband, Jordan were randomly searched by a customs agent at Puerto Vallarta airport last week. Carver reports that she was carrying about seven or eight Sudafed pills in their original packaging, causing her to be detained for several hours at the airport.
During that time, she repeatedly refused to sign documents written in Spanish that she could not understand.
Carver was then told she was going to be taken to the district attorney’s office.
“Two other guys came up and grabbed me and threw me down on the chair,” Jordan Carver said. “While two girls grabbed Jessica and were yanking her out of her chair.”
Jessica Carver was driven to a building in the city that contained several holding cells. She spent most of the night alone, under the watch of a guard.
“It just felt sketchy, uncomfortable,” she said.
Negotiations between local authorities, an official from the U.S. Consulate and an attorney ultimately resulted in Carver’s release, the couple said.
A U.S. State Department official reminded travelers that anyone entering any country is subject to a random customs search. He encouraged people to investigate the regulations and restrictions in the countries to which they travel, and directed tourists to the travel.state.gov website.