Waterloo couple detained in Dominican Republic after household product tested positive for cocaine

A couple from Waterloo is happy to be home after being held by border security in Punta Cana at the end of January.

Speaking on The Mike Farwell Show on Monday, Jamie and Dan Yanke said they were on their way back to Canada from the Dominican when Jamie’s luggage was flagged. Jamie said they have been to the same resort three times and have never been stopped when trying to leave.

“I had a product in my bag called ‘DampRid’ in my bag,” said Jamie. “It works very well and we’ve taken it before.”

DampRid is a product used reduce humidity in closet and hotel rooms when travelling. It comes in a variety of forms, including in a granularized white powder.

After Jamie and Dan were brought in a room, they were told they were going to have their luggage searched for cocaine. When the testing strip turned blue, indicating a positive test, they were detained and had their passports seized.

“I said ‘can we call the Canadian Embassy’… and they said no, you can’t make a phone call,” said Jamie. “You will be taken to a judge and a Dominican lawyer and they will tell you what’s happening.”

After two hours, two more passengers were pulled off their flights and had their luggage flagged due to the same product. Jamie said they were signaled out of detention and were sent back to departures, where their plane had left. The couple said they felt “left hanging there” and had to book another flight home.

“We talked to a Sunwing rep and they said ‘it’s not our fault that your plane had to go, you got pulled off,'” said Dan.

When they returned to Canada, they tested the product again and it came out positive. Dan said they want other travelers to be aware of this testing issue to prevent this from happening again.

“I think if you’re in airport security, you should be using a basic desiccant-based test wipe strip,” said Dan. “It should be something more stringent, so you are not wrongly accusing people of smuggling cocaine.”

The couple plans on travelling back to the Caribbean in a few months, but they said they will be avoiding the Dominican Republic for a while.

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