Skip to content
Log In | Sign Up Connect

What’s your story?

Share and find customer experiences

Connect with the people behind them

Wacktrap is
feedback made social

Post Your Wack Now

Trending Content


91 Lbs of Cocaine Doth Not a Mexican Pizza Make in NC Drug Test Blunder

| Share

by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

As it turns out, food transportation is dangerous job indeed -- at least for one guy who's spent four days in jail after a screw-up that incorrectly labeled him a drug trafficker. 91 pounds of cocaine doth not a Mexican pizza make.

For once, a guy who claims he's not guilty of drug trafficking really isn't. It's a blunder that police blame on an enzyme in cheese -- claiming the cheese is responsible for triggering false drug test results that landed a guy in jail after their "field testing". Apparently the Asheville (NC), department has no desire to include itself in blame -- for anything like, say, not bringing in a K-9 canine drug-sniffing unit.

The newfound proof of innocence doesn't help the fact that trucker Antonio Hernandez has spent four days in an Asheville, North Carolina, jail while awaiting law enforcement's testing results from the state lab it's using.

A Buncombe County deputy had stopped Hernandez at the beginning of the month, on May 1, 2011 -- where the truck driver was carrying a combo of foods including cheese, shrimp and tortilla and tamale dough. It's a bit unclear as to why Hernandez was even stopped by the sheriff's department -- or what reasonable cause, that led to field drug testing of truck contents, by law enforcement.

A portable drug testing kit was used by sheriff's deputies -- and that "kit" changed colors, with an indication that was supposed to reflect the presence of illegal drugs. Apparently Asheville deputies haven't learned the lesson that women have known for many years: strips and color don't always offer "proof-positive".

As it turned out, Hernandez was carrying food -- not trafficking cocaine or any other drugs. But the best question may revolve around why sheriff's deputies didn't bring in a K-9 canine unit, for drug sniffing, to rule out any false 'positive' or help prove their charges against the man.

Statement from Sheriff Van Duncan via The Asheville Citizen-Times conveys the idea that he didn't know -- until this case -- that some foods, such as cheese, can provide false "positives" for field drug tests. Always good to stick a 'tester' in the hands of someone who doesn't have full background knowledge concerning a tool being used to arrest people -- and kind of, sort of, infringe on freedom.

Sheriff Van Duncan says he's got plans -- to have the North Carolina deputies talk to the company that make the drug tests. The thought kind of seems like it would've been a good starting point, perhaps before putting the 'drug tester' into use. Perhaps the Asheville sheriff's department may consider People v. Hagberg where the Appellate Court in Elgin, Illinois, published an opinion that reversed a December 9, 1998 conviction.

In the appeal, the State could not successfully argue that a sufficient foundation had been introduced to show the reliability of the drug test used in the field. During trial, the police officer was only able to testify that he'd observed the suspected substance change color with testing. That Elgin officer had received some training in performing field tests -- but was entirely unable to supply the name of the drug test, or even the type of test he was using. The officer also couldn't recall the color reaction that had occurred when he tested the substance in the case and never testified as to whether the test in question was specific to the drug cocaine.

Asheville law enforcement hasn't fared so well recently. Police have recently been in the news over the ongoing investigation related to missing evidence and the department's evidence room -- interestingly, allegations of missing drugs, guns and money. The police chief resigned during the North Carolina city scandal.


Asheville, NC 28802
United States
35° 35' 24" N, 82° 33' 36" W
| Share
Average: 5 (1 vote)