An Arizona mom in a Mexican prison claims she was framed by officials. Yanira Maldonado, mother of seven, is accused of attempting to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana into the US.
Yanira and her husband were on their way back to the US from a funeral they attended in Mexico. The bus they were riding was stopped at a military checkpoint in Sonora, Mexico. All passengers were ordered to leave the bus for the search.
As reported by CNN, officials at the checkpoint initially approached Yanira’s husband Gary, accusing him of stashing 12 pounds of marijuana under his seat. Gary was eventually released, as officials stated they made a mistake.
Authorities then arrested Yanira for the same crime. The Arizona mom is now in a Mexican prison awaiting trial.
Gary and Yanira contend that the arrest was a set up. An official in Sonora spoke with CNN, asking that he not be named. He backs up the Maldonado’s claims, pointing out that it would have been a struggle to transport 12 pounds of marijuana onto the bus, without being noticed.
An official at the prison reportedly promised Yanira’s freedom in exchange for $5,000. However, when Gary produced the money, he was told that she had been transferred elsewhere.
The case has gained the attention of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. A spokesman from Flake’s office explains:
“Senator Flake is personally monitoring the situation, and he has had multiple conversations with the deputy Mexican ambassador this weekend.”
A hearing will be held today to determine whether the Arizona mom will remain in the Mexican prison until she is granted a trial. The family is trying to remain hopeful.
Yanira Maldonado, age 42, has been a citizen of the United States since 1996. She is a devout Mormon and has no previous criminal record.
If convicted, Yanira faces up to 10 years in a Mexican Prison. She is currently being held in a Nogales facility. Her husband had an opportunity to visit her over the weekend, providing her with support and encouragement.
As reported by KPHO News, Gary was relieved to finally see that Yanira was unharmed. Brandon Klippel, spokesman for the Maldonado family, states that the visit was bittersweet. Yanira explained that she was interrogated throughout the night and asked to sign documents she could not read or understand.
The Mexican court has granted Yanira the right to present witnesses in support of her case. Gary has met with witnesses who are willing to testify that he and his wife boarded the bus without packages. He is also counting on the bus’ video surveillance, which will confirm their story.
Yanira’s family has started a Facebook Page in support of her release. As the Arizona mom sits in a Mexican prison, she and her family maintain that she is innocent of all charges.