Gale Griffin and her husband, Wendall Harvey, who haul explosives for the U.S. military, were first held in detention for 10 days and later imprisoned for eight weeks while the police was expediting drug tests on a bag of baking soda, which Griffin uses for her upset stomach.
It all began when guards at Fort Chaffee, an Army National Guard facility, performed a routine gate search on the couple's truck. During the search, agents found several bags of baking soda in the big rig.
While the couple explained the white substance was just harmless baking soda, police manning the gate were suspicious. They used a portable drug test — a $2 kit that is known for its high frequency of false positives — on the substance.
The test said the couple was carrying a controlled substance.
"They thought we had like 13.2 ounces of cocaine,” Griffin said. “The guy said I had over $300,000 in cocaine,” reports NY Daily News.
Griffin and Harvey were held for 10 days before the court approved them a public defender. Weeks rolled by before they were assigned a specific attorney. The couple’s lawyer begged prosecution to expedite the more accurate lab tests, which would prove that the mysterious white powder was only baking soda. Prosecution waited another four weeks before requesting the lab speed up the case.
I felt like I was somewhere that didn't feel like America. I can't call anybody, nobody knows where I'm at," Harvey said.
"I thought that I'd died and gone to hell,” Griffin added.
Two months after Griffin and Harvey were first arrested, the lab finally processed the substance. Officials confirmed it was only baking soda.
Griffin and Harvey were cleared, but it took another month for them to get their confiscated truck back. The drug suspicions forced the military to deny them security clearances, effectively putting them out of work, reports Cop Block.