Yanira Maldonado: American Mom Jailed in Mexico Accused of Smuggling Drugs

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 03:46 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Yanira Maldonado, a Mormon mother of seven accused of attempting to transport about 12 pounds of marijuana across the Mexican border into the United States, is still sitting in jail almost a week later despite steadfast protests from numerous parties that she was framed.

Even a Mexican official expressed doubt about the validity of Maldonado’s arrest to CNN
, although he refused to be named as a source. He said it was unlikely anyone could carry that much marijuana on a bus without it being noticed.

Gary Maldonado, Yanira Maldonado’s husband, said security footage of them getting on the bus showed they were not carrying packages.

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After attending a funeral in Mexico, Maldonado and her husband, both U.S. citizens from Phoenix, were traveling back to their home in Arizona on May 22. Their commercial bus was stopped and searched at a military checkpoint in the Mexican state of Sonora.

After the search, authorities first arrested Gary Maldonado, saying marijuana allegedly was found under his seat, according to the CNN interview. But a relative contacted the U.S. Consulate in Hermosillo, Mexico, and Gary Maldonado was released. Instead, the authorities charged Yanira Maldonado with the crime.

“Never in our lives did we deal with drugs, or do drugs,” Gary Maldonado told Fox 10 from Mexico.

Other family members, including daughter Anna Soto, told media anyone who met Yanira Maldonado would find it impossible to believe she would do anything like that. Soto visited her mother over the weekend at a Nogales prison, and reported that her mother was strong and sent her love to family members.

Another relative, Brandon Klippel, also visited the prison, where he was only given 10 minutes with Yanira Maldonado.

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“She was at a wire window with her fingertips up through the holes, touching her son’s hand with one hand and touching her husband’s hand with the other,” Klippel told Fox 8 News. “She was just saying, ‘I don’t know how this happened to me. I’ve never done anything illegal in my life. Why has this happened?’

Right after the arrest, Gary Maldonado was told by a Mexican attorney it might be possible to pay a bribe for his wife’s release, but by the time he gathered $5,000, authorities said she was moved to the Nogales prison.

Now, family members await a court hearing Tuesday, and a judge will decide to release Yanira Maldonado or hold her for four months until a trial.

Related stories:

Mexico Cutting Off Access to U.S. Law Enforcement

$4M of Pot on Beach Is Fraction of California Coast Smuggling

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