A mother of seven and grandmother to two was arrested and jailed in Mexico for allegedly attempting to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Her husband has accused Mexican authorities of imprisoning her only after the couple refused to pay a $5,000 bribe.
Yanira Maldonado and her husband, Gary Maldonado, were traveling back from the funeral of Yanira's aunt last Wednesday when their bus was stopped at a military checkpoint about 90 miles from the US-Mexico border. Soldiers searched the bus and reportedly found 12 pounds of marijuana underneath Maldonado's seat and an empty seat next to her.
Her husband claims she was framed by Mexican authorities, who allegedly demanded $5,000 for her release. When that didn't happen, the soldiers arrested Maldonado. The Maldonados were reportedly the only US citizens aboard the bus.
Gary Maldonado, who authorities let go, raised the $5,000 by the next day, but by then it was too late; Yanira Maldonado had been transferred to a jail in Nogales, where her husband visited her on Saturday.
"She had a rough night," [Maldonado's brother-in law Brandon] Klippel told KPHO. "Their interrogation included putting her in a non-air-conditioned room and waking her up several times in the middle of night - trying to get her to sign documents that she said she couldn't read."
Two witnesses – a woman and her son – reportedly told Gary Maldonado they'll testify that the couple boarded the bus without any packages.
The Mexican Embassy in Washington DC released a statement saying that Yanira Maldonado's “rights to a defense counsel and due process are being observed.”
According to a statement issued by his office, Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator from Arizona, “is personally monitoring the situation and has had multiple conversations with the deputy Mexican ambassador.”
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