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The prospect if ending up in jail in a foreign country is a horrific nightmare. There are an estimated 3,000 Americans arrested abroad each year. Unfortunately, other countries don’t have the constitutional rights we have here in America. If you’re arrested in Mexico, under Mexican criminal law you are essentially guilty until proven innocent. Mexico also has very strict drug laws because of the powerful drug cartels running their country.
Yanira Maldonado, a mother of seven, is now in a Mexican jail after she was arrested on drug smuggling charges.
Yanira and her husband Gary Maldonado were on their way home to Phoenix, Arizona from her aunt’s funeral in Mexico. The Mexican military stopped their bus and then soldiers forced travelers off. After the bus was searched soldiers told the family that there was marijuana found under her seat and the seat next to hers, KPHO-TV reported.
Brandon Kippel, Yanira’s brother, told KPHO-TV that Yanira and Gary were the only Americans on the bus and the drugs must have been there already.
KPHO-TV further reported:
“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.