Lifestyle & Belief

Canada jails American granny for 12 days in "heroin smuggling" mixup


A Canadian Customs officer watches over the U.S.-Canada border. Canadian border agents at a Minnesota-Manitoba border crossing arrested an American grandmother and jailed her for 12 days on suspicion of trying to smuggle heroin into Canada. A jar of what border agents thought was heroin turned out to be motor oil.


Jeff Vinnick

An American granny was strip-searched and then jailed for almost two weeks by Canadian border police who accused her of trying to smuggle heroin into Canada after finding a liquid-filled jar in the back of her minivan.

The Mason jar was later found to contain used motor oil — but not before Janet Goodin, a 66-year-old grandmother, had been held in jail for 12 days and subjected to humiliating strip searches and interrogations.

Goodin had been driving from the U.S. state of Minnesota to visit her daughters in the Canadian province of Manitoba for a weekend of bingo.

When Canadian border agents searched her van as she crossed the small-town border between the two countries, they found a glass jar full of a liquid which at roadside tested positive for heroin.

Goodin ended up in a Winnipeg, Manitoba jail facing charges of heroin trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking in heroin and importation, which carry a minimum of two years in jail, the Winnipeg Free Press reports.

She was subjected to repeated interrogations, and was stripped naked and searched. She later recalled having to remove the incontinence pad she was wearing so that customs officials could search it.

“I am a really private person. I was raised on a farm,” Goodin told the Toronto Star. When I was young I didn’t wear low-cut blouses. To stand there naked in front of other women, and have them inspecting you — it was indescribable how humiliated I was, and still am.”

Goodin remained in jail for 12 days until a Royal Canadian Mounted Police lab test revealed that the jar contained nothing more than used motor oil – reportedly put there by her son in law after he changed her van’s oil two years ago.

All charges against her were dropped.

“I went to bingo and ended up in jail,” Goodin told the Star. “I’m probably the last person in the world who would be smuggling drugs.”

The Winnipeg Free Press described Goodin’s ordeal as “an Orwellian nightmare.”

“The appalling treatment of an American grandmother … exposes the problem of relying on fallible technology at the expense of common sense and human intelligence,” an editorial in the newspaper said.

Canadian officials say they will conduct an internal review to find out what caused the initial drug test to come back positive.

“We don’t know what caused the positive, whether maybe the container at some point had come into contact with something or whether it was a false positive,” a source told the Toronto Star.

“But it’s used motor oil for sure. It’s not drugs.”

Goodin has retained a lawyer and is considering her options, including a potential lawsuit, CTV News reports.

(More Canada news from GlobalPost: Air Canada flight from Sydney, Australia to Vancouver dumps fuel after reports of smoke)