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This article was published 27/7/2011 (3738 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Minnesota grandmother who was wrongly jailed at the Winnipeg Remand Centre for 12 days on suspicion of smuggling heroin into Manitoba says federal officials owe her an apology and compensation for the debt incurred to cover her legal costs.
Janet Goodin, 66, said she is pleased the Canada Border Services Agency is preparing a report on her arrest, but said she's owed more than that.
"I would like an apology and I would like the charges to be withdrawn," Goodin said. "My daughters had to borrow at least $5,000 to cover my legal costs, and that money should be recouped, too."
As the Free Press first reported Tuesday, Goodin was arrested April 20 by CBSA guards at the Sprague port of entry after a preliminary field test showed a canning jar of motor oil in her van tested positive for traces of heroin. She was handcuffed, detained and strip-searched by border guards, then turned over to the RCMP, who charged her with three heroin-trafficking offences.
Goodin, a retired girl scout administrator, was denied bail and held behind bars before a more thorough analysis by the RCMP revealed the jar contained only motor oil.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Tuesday he has requested a report from the president of the CBSA into Goodin's detention.
"Whether there were any errors or changes that need to be made, I'll have to wait until I receive a full report," Toews said.
He said he would not comment on whether the Canadian government would issue an apology to Goodin.
"Whatever actions are appropriate, either CBSA or the government will take."
CBSA official Carl Jarvin, the acting manager of programs for the Prairie region, said the field test conducted by the border guards has proven infallible in the past, adding he couldn't explain why there was a false positive in Goodin's case.
"I'm not aware of a similar case in my 23 years like this one," Jarvin said. "This is completely unusual."
Jarvin said the field-testing procedure used by CBSA border guards is the same one used by several law enforcement agencies.
He said although findings of the field test are not allowed in court, the results are recognized as grounds to detain individuals suspected of drug smuggling.
"It's a proven system that we use and other law-enforcement agencies use," Jarvin said, adding he's not aware if continued use of the field test is being reviewed.
Goodin said her Winnipeg lawyer had requested a full report from the CBSA on her arrest, including a copy of the field-test results, but added none of that information has been released.
She said she was released from the remand centre May 3 and was considering legal action against the CBSA, but realized she couldn't afford it.
"I've been a widow for almost 40 years and I live month to month," she said. "My daughters had to borrow $5,000 for my lawyers. I can't afford to do anything else."
Goodin said although the court stayed the three heroin-smuggling charges, she believes they should have been withdrawn completely.
"I'm afraid that this is going to cause me problems if I travel across the border again," she said. "Those charges are going to be there."