Elderly Mainer Released From Spanish Prison After Drug Scam
A retired pastor from Maine, who fell victim to a drug cartel's scam, is back home after being released from a Spanish prison.
The story of 77-year-old Bryon Martin's journey to Spain is a warning to all of us about online relationships and trusting people that you really don't know. Martin had struck up an internet relationship with a young woman who called herself 'Joy.' The two corresponded for five years.
'Joy' claimed to be from a wealthy North African family and told Martin that she needed his help in obtaining real estate documents for property her family owned in Peru. She asked him to go to South America to get the documents and then bring them to her in London.
While in Peru, Martin was given two sealed packages and a plane ticket to London, with a layover in Madrid. But while he was in Spain, security personnel opened the packages and found nearly two kilograms of cocaine, worth about $450,000. He was taken into custody, tried, and sentenced to six years in a Spanish prison for drug smuggling.
The Pastor's son says, before this happened, his father had never been arrested for anything. He was in poor health and his son feared for his life in a foreign jail. So Maine lawmakers got involved, particularly Senator Susan Collins, who chaired the hearing that examined this scam for the first time, earlier this year. 83 U.S. citizens have been arrested abroad since 2013 and identified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as victims of this scheme through an initiative known as Operation Cocoon.
For Bryan Martin, the nightmare is over. He's been released from the prison that incarcerated him nearly a year ago and is back home with his family. But his story serves as a warning to us all about the importance of questioning everything, and being cautious about who you trust.