Americans traveling between Mexico, US see vacations turn into nightmares at the border

American citizens traveling between the U.S. and Mexico claim to have been detained and fined thousands for making one simple mistake – part of a growing list of travelers with border-crossing horror stories.

Americans have been slapped with thousands of dollars in fines and faced hours of detainment for incorrectly using the pre-approved lane when driving across the border back into the U.S.

“They shackled me to this metal bench as I waited for three hours,” Rose, a Burbank, California resident, told KTTV-TV earlier this month about her harrowing experience at the Tijuana/San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Some travelers say the Sentri Lane for pre-approved travelers has confusing signage, and its concrete barriers make it easy to unknowingly get stuck in the lane with no ability to get out.

“I had never been humiliated in my life the way I was humiliated that afternoon,” Psadena, California resident Ana Salazar said of her ordeal after using the wrong lane.

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Vehicles wait to enter the United States Customs and Border Protection San Ysidro Port of Entry along the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on April 9, 2022.
(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney John Manley told the outlet he has represented drivers who have been detained and fined for using the wrong lane.

“They basically shackle you to a bench for two, three hours,” Manley said. “They say, ‘Yep, we’re gonna take your car,’ or, ‘we’re gonna fine you $5,000,’ for what amounts to being in the wrong lane of traffic.”

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol directed Fox News Digital to 19 U.S. Code ? 1436 which outlines the penalties for improperly crossing the border back into the United States.

Other American citizens have found their vacations spiral into nightmares on the way back from Mexico in recent years for other reasons. Ira Beavers finally reunited with his family in tthe U.S. this past December after spending months in a Mexican jail for having his gun in his car.

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A U.S. Border Patrol official.
(Reuters/Mike Blake)

Beavers was traveling with his family back to the United States from Rocky Point, Mexico in October 2021 when his car was randomly searched by Mexican authorities who found a handgun, KPHO-TV reported.

“It’s my personal gun,” Beavers said. “I always took it with me no matter where I was going. I never shot that gun. I just had it for protection for my family if I needed it.”

It’s a federal crime to bring a gun into Mexico, and though Beavers claimed not to know the law he faced up to four years in prison for the offense. He ended up spending over seven months in a Mexican jail waiting to clear his name through the legal process.

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Barriers are seen on the U.S. side of the San Ysidro crossing port of the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on Dec. 19, 2022.
(Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

Drew Harrison, an Arizona father of three, also traveled to Rocky Point, Mexico with his family for vacation and also allegedly forgot that his gun was in his car. He has been in Mexican prison since May despite his family’s pleas for his release, KPNX-TV reported.

Like Beavers, Harrison’s family said his car was randomly selected for inspection at the border.

“That’s when the nightmare started,” Antonio Harrison, Drew’s father, told the outlet.

The family said Drew and his wife were immediately taken into custody and their three children were released to his grandparents who were following in the car behind them. Drew’s wife was released from custody when he acknowledged the gun was his.

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The family initially believed that Harrison faced 15 years in prison but are now hoping that the punishment will be much less as they work through the legal process.

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“My son made a mistake. He owned up to it,” Antonio Harrison said. “The crime and the punishment don’t equal each other.”

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.