Traveling to Mexico to attend a family funeral, an American woman has been accused of smuggling drugs and faces a 10 year prison sentence if found guilty. The woman’s family insists that she isn’t a drug smuggler and is a victim of the Mexican corruption.
Yanira Maldonado has been held in a Mexican prison for the last week. She and her family are praying that now that her hearing has begun a judge will set her free soon. The court case began on Tuesday, May 28 and is scheduled to continue on Wednesday.
A week prior to Maldonado’s arrest, she and her husband Gary had attended her aunt’s funeral in Mexico. After the funeral, the couple were riding in a bus headed back to their home in Phoenix.
At a military checkpoint in Hermosillo, 10 miles from the United States – Mexico border, the bus was stopped and soldiers ordered all of the passengers to exit the bus. Standing on the side of the road, the soldiers interrogated all of the passengers except for Yanira and Gary Maldonado.
Early on after the soldiers targeted Gary Maldonado and arrested him. However, several hours later, the police changed their story and said they had discovered 5.7 kilos of marijuana “that were bungee-corded to the metal post beneath her [Yanira Maldonado] seat.”
Yanira Maldonado was arrested and charged with drug trafficking and possession. If convicted, she faces a minimum sentence of a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
According to Gary Maldonado’s brother-in-law, Brandon Klippel, the couple are the parents of seven children and are Mormon. Klippel went on to say that, “They are very staunch Mormons.”
“They’re extremely active in the church, to the most far side that you could possibly be in the faith.” Klippel said that the couple’s detainment was “devastating” for the family.
When Yanira Maldonado was transported to the jail, one local attorney arrived and Gary Maldonado claims he said, “You know how it works in Mexico, right?” Gary Maldonado alleges that the attorney explained to him that it would take money to ensure that his wife would be released from jail.
Klippel went on to say, “The attorney that Gary called was from a list of attorneys who were ranked on a list of how well they spoke English. He talked to the prosecuting attorney before he talked to Gary, and then he came to Gary and said, ‘If we give them money, they’ll release your wife.”
Gary Maldonado alleges he offered the prosecuting attorney $3500 but he wanted $5000. The Maldonado family all pitched in and wired Gary the money the next day.
However, by then, Yanira had been transferred from the Hermosillo jail to a women’s correctional facility in Nogales which is on the United States-Mexican border. Klippel reported that “His attorney’s assistant said in broken English, ‘It’s not about money anymore, and they want you to leave’.”
The Mexican Consulate in Washington, D.C., stated that the federal officials were in “close communication” with Mexico’s government to “guarantee Mrs. Maldonado’s right to consular assistance.”
Consulate spokeswoman Lydia Antonio said, “Mrs. Maldonado’s rights to a defense counsel and due process are being observed. As the process is ongoing and a preliminary decision by the judge is due soon, no other comments will be made at this time.”
“Mrs. Maldonado’s rights to a defense counsel and due process are being observed. As the process is ongoing and a preliminary decision by the judge is due soon, no other comments will be made at this time,” Consulate spokeswoman Lydia Antonio said.
Yanira Maldonado appeared in front of the judge on Tuesday, May 28. Klippel revealed that later Tuesday afternoon he received information that “there will not be any verdict issued today.”
Klippel stated, “At first, it just seemed surreal. You didn’t believe it. You said, ‘This is just going to blow over, it’s a mistake.”
“The reality is sinking in now that in this country, this thing happens and we don’t have a protocol to follow when this happens. What went from being a nightmare that felt surreal is turning into a reality that is overwhelming emotionally.”
Klippel explained that four witnesses testified in court on Tuesday. “They have witnesses who saw that they were the last ones to get on the bus.”
“They saw them put their luggage underneath and get on the bus without anything with them. How they managed to hide big blocks of marijuana and bungee cord them underneath is overwhelming ridiculous.”
“It’s a challenge though. Some people won’t come unless they’re financially compensated, and some won’t come because it’s a Mexican court.”
Another brother-in-law, Brian Neerings keeps up a Facebook page for the family and explained how the judge has six days to make a decision on Yanira’s case. On the page he wrote, “If she is not released within that 6, they are transporting her to a facility in southern Mexico and she will be there for 3-4 months before an official case can be made from the attorney they retained this evening.”
“We are hoping and praying that something happens before that 6 day window expires.”
Be sure to check out Kelly’s other columns:
Austin Marriage Examiner
Austin Beauty Examiner
Disease & Illness Examiner
National Sports Celebrity Examiner
Sex and Relationships Examiner
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