A mom of seven has been thrown into a Mexican jail after being accused of drug smuggling. The Arizona mother, Yanira Maldonado, a devout Mormon who says she doesn't drink or use drugs, is baffled as to how this happened to her. Maldonado says she had just returned from her aunt's funeral and had boarded a bus headed back to the U.S. when it was stopped at a military checkpoint. She says:
They asked us to get off bus. And they were checking for drugs or I don't know what else. And they say they found something under my seat. But I never saw anything. They didn't show me anything. It was just amazing all that, what they did.
If she is innocent, can you imagine this utter nightmare?
Yanira was with her husband, Gary, when the bus was stopped and everyone was told to get off. First, they arrested him. But after his father contacted the U.S. Consulate, they said they made a mistake. Quite a mistake! After he was released, they charged his wife instead. Gary says that he believes the police wanted a bribe. Even their lawyer told them to raise the funds to pay off a bribe. Yanira says:
I'm not a killer. I'm not a criminal. I'm just here by mistake because people are not doing their work. This is not right. I need to be back with my family. I need to be out of here. I need help.
Being falsely arrested in a foreign country and thrown into prison is probably one of everyone's worst fears. Yanira says the police didn't even show her the marijuana they supposedly found under her seat. Nor did they show up at her first hearing to provide any evidence against her. Yet she remains locked up abroad.
I believe this woman. Not because moms are above reproach -- certainly mothers get into all kinds of trouble, including drug smuggling, running brothels, running porn rings, you name it.
But this just doesn't add up. She seems very credible to me. She is facing a minimum of 10 years in prison. Her daughter, who just had a baby, calls the charges "outrageous" and I agree. If they can't provide hardcore proof, she needs to be let out immediately. And then you wonder what kind of proof they'd give. Something that's been planted? Since she's accused of having six kilos of pot, a source familiar with her case says that would be impossible -- there's no way someone could carry all of that around by herself without being noticed. "She must have been framed," said the source.
And a Mexican state official even told CNN (anonymously) that it appears the mom was framed!
Yanira was born in Mexico and says she always told her friends not to fear going there. She goes there every year to visit family. And now she doesn't think she will ever return.
One thing is working for Yanira -- she's a mom of seven and that means her case has drawn a lot of media attention. A lot of people aren't so lucky. I've only been to Mexico once, but I'd have to seriously consider ever going there in the future.
Do you believe her?
Image via CNN