Six Months for Letting Grandma Do His Laundry


The Guardian reports that Juan Rodríguez, a Panamanian doctor, recently spent six months in a Spanish prison because border guards claimed his clothing smelled funny and tested positive for cocaine. Police concluded he was "a drugs mule who had soaked his clothes in a cocaine solution with the intention of smuggling them through customs and removing the drug later." Rodríguez, who was visiting Spain for a three-month training program at a Madrid hospital, was released when police finally got around to doing a second, confirmatory test on the clothing, which showed the original results were mistaken. His lawyer comments:

It was a Kafkaesque situation. And if it can happen to him, then it could happen to any of us. Obviously this raises questions about the system they use for testing in the airport, as well as why the second test took so long and how such a well-respected person could be treated this way.

The Guardian is hazy on the chemistry underlying the false positive, but it notes that the doctor lives with his grandmother, who "washes his clothes, irons them with starch and stores them in drawers stuffed with mothballs."

More on the perils of fallible drug tests here and here.

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]