A mother of seven is in a Mexican jail after soldiers arrested her on marijuana smuggling charges, reports KPHO-TV.
Gary and Yanira Maldonado, who live near Phoenix, Ariz., traveled to Mexico last week to attend a family funeral. On their way back to the U.S. their bus was stopped at a military checkpoint where soldiers ordered all passengers off the bus.
Later soldiers told the couple that marijuana was found under her seat and the seat next to hers…and Yanira was arrested, KPHO-TV said.
Yanira’s brother, Brandon Klippel, said the couple were the only U.S. citizens on the bus – and if drugs were truly found on board, they were already there when the couple sat down, KPHO-TV reported.
“You hear all of these horror stories about Mexico and you think it’s just something in the movies, right?” said Klippel. “You don’t believe it’s something that could happen to someone you know. But, when it happens to your brother and your sister – it’s hard, it’s tough to take.”
More from KPHO-TV:
“His attorney had talked to the prosecuting attorney there and came back to him and said, ‘You know how it works in Mexico, right?'” Klippel told CBS5 News. “He said, ‘no I don’t.’ He [attorney] said, ‘well, if we bribe the judge – then he’ll let you go.'”
Klippel said after Gary Maldonado frantically scraped together $5,000 to free his wife Thursday, he was told it was too late.
Yanira Maldonado had been transferred to a holding facility in Nogales.
“When he [Gary] got there they said, ‘we don’t have any record of her at all,'” said Klippel. “He panicked. He told me terror struck him. And he thought, for that period of time, that he’d never see his wife again.”
That was Friday morning.
By Friday night, officials confirmed Yanira Maldonado was, in fact, in Nogales – and her husband was able to visit her Saturday morning on the one year anniversary of their wedding.
“She had a rough night,” said Klippel. “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.”
He said Yanira Maldonado maintains her innocence and believes those documents were probably admission of guilt statements.
If he or she decides against it, Yanira Maldonado will be taken to a federal prison in southern Mexico.Klippel said the Mexican Consulate is working this case and that Senator Jeff Flake is in contact with the family, in an effort to bring Yanira Maldonado home.
Check out the couple’s new Facebook page in response to this crisis.