On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, the Indigenous Colombian healer was detained in the Houston International Airport. He was formally arrested by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for possession of his traditional medicine Ayahuasca.
Taita Juan Agreda Chindoy is an indigenous Cametsa traditional healer from the Sibundoy Valley in the Alto Putumayo of Colombia. In addition to being recognized by the Colombian Ministry of Health, he is a recognized lineage holder of traditional Amazonian medicine and an established healer and leader in his community.
According to a report from Caracol Radio, one of the main radio networks in Colombia,”a Federal Court ruled his release when his attorney showed that Yage (ayahuasca) is a medicinal plant used by indigenous as traditional medicine, and does not generate dependency”.
Among Agreda’s legal defense team is Nancy Hollander. Nancy was the lead attorney that was successful before the Supreme Court in granting the UDV church legal authorization for the religious use of ayahuasca.
Support came from around the world as many people came to Juan’s side, both physically and spiritually, including reports that Colombian embassy officials visited Juan last week, reportedly offering their support. Indigenous rights groups, human rights organizations and networks of the vast ayahuasca community are also among those who came to his aid.
More than €1800 gathered from fundraising initiatives in Europe has been presented to Juan’s family who are “overwhelmed with joy”. The Free Taita Juan campaign raised over $14,000 for his legal defense.