Confused with Drug Runners

A couple from Motril were arrested and “treated like narcos,” in their own words, by the police after they mistook medicine for drugs.

Is was on the 23rd of April 2010 the surreal incident took place, dragging Fernando and Gabriela through an experience that they won’t be forgetting in a hurry. It was 09.45h to be precise, just before Fernando opened his car workshop in Torrenueva, but first, the couple had to pick up a parcel at the Post Office in Motril.

The parcel, which had been sent from Uruguay, contained homeopathic medicine for the treatment of Gabriela’s myelitis. Myelitis involves the infection or the inflammation of white matter or gray matter in the spinal cord. During an inflammatory response on the spinal cord, the myelination and axon may be damaged causing symptoms such as paralysis and sensory loss.

Gabriela, by the way, is originally from Uruguay but has lived for the last 14 years here in Spain. Normally, she brings it back with her when she goes to visit, but with no such trip on the horizon, she decided to have it posted to her… big mistake.

The medicine came in a 250g tub and is in the form of a white powder – say no more. No sooner as she began to sign for the package, two plain-clothes policeman arrested her for drug smuggling. To no avail was her explanation that it was medicine.

With Gabriele shouting inside, Fernando jumped out of their car to rush in, but only to have five other policemen pounce on him. They were handcuffed, read their rights and driven off in separate cars – and the nightmare was only beginning. Gabriel was taken home to pick up another tub that she had there. The police did a quick test and announced, “It’s heroine!” Gabriela, feeling more and more incredulous about what was happening, shouted for them to test her, as she had taken some that very morning.

Shortly after, at the police station they were processed, with the usual photos and fingerprints taken. They even had DNA samples taken. They were taken before a magistrate where the police explained that the street value of “her medicine” was 15,000 euros – she tearfully spluttered that it only costs 50 euros from a pharmacy in Uruguay.

Throughout the grueling interrogation she even began to have doubts about the contents, even considering that somebody had substituted it for an illegal drug, which was illogical, because she would have been overdosed that very same morning.

The police issued a press report about how they had arrested drug runners from Torrenueva and of course, the locals soon worked out who the “criminals” were. Even some of Fernando’s relatives turned their backs on him.

The nightmare lasted during three long months on bail, waiting for the results of a laboratory in Málaga. Amazingly, the laboratory knew within two days of receiving the “drug” what it really was, but the law courts move slowly, hence the three-month wait.

The case was shelved and their medicine returned. Fernando had to go and pick it up, where he came face to face with the policeman who had arrested him, but instead of apologizing, the policeman sarcastically said, “See what happens when you bring medicine in from Uruguay!”

The couple took this injustice before the General Judiciary Board but their claim for compensation for the treatment that they received was thrown out. But Gabriela has not given up – at the very least, she wants an official apology.

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(News: Motril, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)