CHICAGO (CBS) — The Mexican consulate of Chicago is looking into a Chicago man who was detained in Mexico for having cold medicine pills.
CBS 2’s Sandra Torres explains why in this Original Report.
60-year-old Steven Gaines says he was, “Incredulous, I was concerned, I was scared” about his time in a Mexican jail in early March.
Gaines says he traveled to Puerto Vallarta on Friday, March 4 with his fiancé Patty Kozer to celebrate their engagement. The trip came to a halt when Mexican authorities checked his carry-on bag at the airport.
“They saw that I had some over-the-counter Wal-fed decongestant tablets with me,” Gaines said. “They informed me that that is a banned substance, a controlled substance in Mexico and that I was going to be detained.”
11 pills of Wal-phed D, a medication he used to treat his sinuses.
“I said I was unaware that it was a controlled substance, would they please throw it away and allow us to leave the airport and go on to our hotel and I was informed that no, that I had committed a violation by bringing it into the country,” Gaines said.
He was thrown in jail and Patty had to figure out what to do on her own.
“I went on panic mode,” she said. “The American Consulate gave me names of attorneys to call, Mexican attorneys, so I did call one and I hired her.”
That attorney texted patty she would have to pay $3,500 in American dollars to get him out.
“I was able to get a prescription for the Sudafed from the doctor here in the states, so I got that reduced to $2,500.”
Gaines was released within 24 hours. They have now confirmed it was a bribe and are hoping others learn from their experience.
“We’re hoping that we can help other people avoid being incarcerated and paying bribes and not put themselves in this situation,” Gaines said.
Gaines is now working on filing an official complaint with the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.
A representative from the Paisano Program which handles these claims tells us Mexican authorities had a right to detain Gaines while they investigated, but he should’ve been released without a fine once he obtained the prescription.