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Arizona mom jailed in Mexico speaks out: 'I'm innocent'

May 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Arizona mother accused of trying to smuggle marijuana into the U.S. is speaking out from her Mexican prison cell for the first time.

Maldonado, 42, was attending a funeral in Mexico with her husband last week. On their way back home, their bus was stopped at a military checkpoint in Hermosillo, Mexico. Soldiers say they found boxes of marijuana, 12 pounds worth, under her seat after passengers were taken off the bus.

"They say they found something under my seat, but I never saw anything. They didn't show me anything. It was just amazing," said Maldonado.

Maldonado and her family believe she was set up.

"I thought maybe that was a set-up or a joke or something. I was just waiting for that to end, but I realized that it's real, that I'm being detained," said Yanira Maldonado.

Maldonado was transferred to a prison in the border town of Nogales. At a court hearing Tuesday, witnesses said she boarded the bus with only a blanket and a purse.

The case is all the more incredible because Maldonado is a mother of seven and a devout Mormon who won't even touch caffeine.

"I'm innocent and I'm a good mom. I love the gospel," said Maldonado.

Family members are pleading for her freedom. Maldonado's husband, Gary, is encouraged by what he says is a weak case by the prosecution, with inconsistent testimony. He says he was told a $5,000 bribe would set her free. He was willing to pay up, but nobody took him up on the offer. He says he isn't sure there were any drugs on the bus.

On Friday, a Mexican judge will decide whether Yanira Maldonado will be set free. If she's held for trial, that could mean several more months in prison.


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