Ariz.mom held in Mexico jail, accused of drug smuggling

Gary and Yanira Maldonado. KPHO

PHOENIX An Arizona woman who traveled to Mexico last week with her husband is stuck in jail there, accused of smuggling drugs, CBS affiliate KPHO reports.

Gary and Yanira Maldonado, who have seven children between them, were traveling on a bus that was found to be carrying marijuana, the station reported.

Gary Maldonado's brother-in-law, Brandon Klippel, told KPHO that the Maldonados were the only U.S. citizens on the bus - and if marijuana was found on board, it was already there when the couple sat down.

"You hear all of these horror stories about Mexico and you think it's just something in the movies, right?" Klippel told the station. "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."

Klippel told KPHO that after initially arresting Gary Maldonado, Mexican officials said they'd made a mistake - that the marijuana was actually found underneath Yanira Maldonado's seat and an empty seat next to her. She was arrested.

Klippel said Gary Maldonado scraped together $5,000 to free his wife Thursday, but he was told it was too late. Yanira Maldonado had been transferred to a holding facility in Nogales, where her husband was finally able to visit her Saturday.

"She had a rough night," 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."

Klippel said the Mexican Consulate is working this case and that Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is in contact with the family, in an effort to bring Yanira Maldonado home.

A family friend told KPHO a judge has granted her an extension so she can present witnesses to her case. That is expected to take place on Friday.

Gary Maldonado said they have a woman and her son who can testify they saw they couple enter the bus without any packages - and he's hoping the charter bus company will have surveillance video they can also use as evidence.

More from KPHO:

CBS 5 - KPHO

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