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Costa Rica Detains Tampa Mother Over $40 Souvenir Mistaken for Ancient Artifact



Costa Rica Detains Tampa Mother

A cautionary tale unfolds as a Tampa mother recounts her harrowing experience in Costa Rica.

Christina Merrild found herself unexpectedly detained after authorities mistook a souvenir in her carry-on for a valuable artifact.

“I realized the severity of the situation when they informed me I would be placed in handcuffs,” Merrild recounted. “Even now, I’m grappling with the reality of how much danger I was in during those moments.”

What began as a memorable week-long vacation with her two sons and friends in Costa Rica quickly turned nightmarish during her return journey.

“They insisted the item was a pre-Columbian artifact, but I had purchased it for $40 from a local store,” Merrild explained. “The misunderstanding was baffling to me.”

Merrild underwent extensive questioning and was informed she needed to complete paperwork and pay a fine. Opting to stay behind for a later flight, her situation escalated when her family departed without her.

“They demanded $160 in cash as restitution,” Merrild recalled. “It depleted all my available funds, and they even suggested a bank transfer as an alternative.”

Despite repeated attempts, Merrild struggled to reach assistance from the U.S. Embassy, leaving her feeling abandoned in a foreign legal predicament.

“I dialed what I believed was an emergency lifeline, but my calls went unanswered,” she lamented. “The lack of response was utterly unacceptable.”

After her release, Merrild was fortunate to find help from a compassionate individual who ensured her safe return to Tampa. Yet, the aftermath left her with unsettling uncertainties.

“I now possess mug shots from Costa Rica, yet I remain unaware of the charges registered under my name in that country,” Merrild shared. “I’m unsure where to seek confirmation or recourse regarding the false allegations against me.” Reported by WFLA.

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