Try BlazeTV for Free

Family of AZ Mother Jailed in Mexico Pleads for Her Release in New Interview: 'Greatest Fear' Is That She Will Be 'Lost

“Our greatest fear right now is that our sister will be lost."

(Photo via the TODAY Show/NBC News)

(Photo: The TODAY Show/NBC News)

PHOENIX (TheBlaze/AP) -- The family of an Arizona mother is renewing calls for her freedom after Mexican authorities arrested her on drug smuggling charges last Wednesday, claiming she tried to smuggle nearly 12 pounds of marijuana into the United States on a passenger bus.

Yanira Maldonado's 21-year-old daughter, Anna Soto, has spoken with emotion on local and national television networks, telling Phoenix's KPHO-TV: "If you would've known my mom, if you've met her, you would know she had nothing to do with it."

Maldonado's brother-in-law Brandon Klippel spoke with Savannah Guthrie on the TODAY Show Wednesday, summarizing: “Our greatest fear right now is that our sister will be lost...One of the things the attorney said to us right in the beginning is that once you’re in the [Mexican] federal prison system, they move you around without keeping good records...She was lost for the first day in the prison system when this first started."

He continued: "If she’s moved and transported around, we may never see our sister again, and that’s something that would just be devastating to our family.”

A court hearing was held Tuesday in Nogales, but no verdict was reached and now the tension stretches into Wednesday.  By tonight, the family hopes to know Maldonado's fate.

"We're hoping for the best outcome," Maldonado's husband, Gary, said.  "We don't think they have a case."

Maldonado, a devout Mormon, has seven children.

(Photo via the TODAY Show/NBC News)

(Photo via the TODAY Show/NBC News)

Maldonado and her husband were returning from the funeral of her aunt last Wednesday when the bus they were on was stopped at a military checkpoint about 90 miles from the U.S-Mexico border.

Soldiers inspected the bus and claim to have found a staggering amount of marijuana beneath Maldonado's seat, which the family says must have either already been there, or was stored there without her knowledge (if it was there at all).

"We just know that they had nothing to do with it, whether [the drugs] were there beforehand or whether they were planted there by somebody else," Klippel said.

Maldonado's daughter Anna Sotto added that her mother would "never" get involved with drugs.

"I don't think she's ever even tried a cigarette in her life or even drank a beer," Soto remarked. "You know, she's one of those people that tries to stay away from those kinds of people or those kinds of things."

The Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said in a statement Tuesday that Yanira Maldonado's "rights to a defense counsel and due process are being observed," but didn't respond to allegations she was framed.

Maldonado is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, her family said.

She was taken to a state prison in Nogales after being turned over to federal prosecutors, whereupon a federal judge will decide whether Maldonado should face trial.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is "personally monitoring the situation, and he has had multiple conversations with the deputy Mexican ambassador," his office said in a statement.

In the meantime, Maldonado is sitting in a prison her daughter described as "horrible."



One last thing…
Watch TheBlaze live and on demand on any device, anywhere, anytime.
try premium
Exclusive video
All Videos
Watch BlazeTV on your favorite device, anytime, anywhere.
Try BlazeTV for Free
Sponsored content
Daily News Highlights

Get the news that matters most delivered directly to your inbox.