Yanira Maldonado, a Mormon mother-of-seven from Phoenix, AZ, is living a nightmare in Mexico after she was arrested for drug smuggling. She was returning home with her husband after attending a funeral in Mexico last week when police claimed that ********* was found beneath her bus seat at a military checkpoint near Hermosillo.
Yanira and her family claim the arrest is a mistake and that the ********* found by Mexican police was not theirs. When she was taken to prison, an attorney told her husband Gary to raise money to give to a judge because ‘that’s how it works here’, according to her family. The couple, who have 7 children and two grandchildren, raised $5,000 for her release, they still refused to free her.
“Never in our lives did we deal with drugs, or do drugs,” her husband Gary Maldonado told FOX 10 from Mexico. “Everybody from the very beginning was telling us, ‘We know you guys aren’t guilty, but this is just the process’.”
Yanira and her husband, who are Mormon, said they do not even drink and have never taken drugs. Anna Soto, the couple’s 21-year-old daughter, said:
“If you would’ve known my mom, if you would’ve met her — you would know she had nothing to do with it.” She told Fox that she visited her mother in prison Saturday.
“She started crying and…she’s like, ‘I have faith that people will help us, that we will get out of this together as a family’,” said Soto.
A couple of days after Yanira’s arrest, she was moved to a woman’s jail in Nogales but the family was not informed. When her husband Gary went to visit her, he was told she had been sent elsewhere.
“He panicked,” his brother, Klippel, said. “He told me terror struck him. And he thought, for that period of time, that he’d never see his wife again.”
The office of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has issued a statement saying that he is “personally monitoring the situation and has had multiple conversations with the deputy Mexican ambassador.”
Yanira Maldonado has an attorney and will appear at a hearing in front of a judge on Monday.