May 27, 2013 7:55 PM

Woman wrongly imprisoned in Mexico, family says

TUCSON - An Arizona woman's family is fighting for her release from a Mexico prison.
Yanira Maldonado has been in a Nogales, Sonora prison since last week.

Maldanado and her husband were returning from a funeral in Mexico last Wednesday when Mexican authorities stopped the bus they were riding in, outside of Hermosillo.

According to Yanira's daughter Anna Soto, her mother Yanira and her husband Gary were the only Americans on the bus.

Soto says Mexican authorities stopped the bus at a checkpoint and told the Goodyear couple they found marijuana taped underneath their seats. Soto says Gary was held for questioning and released but Yanira was placed under arrest.

"Right now my mom is being falsely accused of drug trafficking marijuana," Soto says.
According to Soto, her mother and step-father have been married for a year and have seven children together.

"[I'm] emotionally drained," Soto says. "Everything is going through my mind. I'm angry and I'm upset,"

Larry Maldonado is Gary's father and said family and friends have been reaching out to elected officials for help.

"My family is very emotional about this situation. That's all I know. You don't know what to do," he says.

Maldonado said a Mexican lawyer advised Gary to pay the judge $5,000 but the payment was rejected.

For Soto, the situation is a nightmare. "She is the most honest, person. She always has a smile on her face. She is a strong woman, she is loving and caring," she says.

News 4 Tucson was unable to reach the U.S. Consulate in Nogales on Monday.


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