American Woman Held in Mexico, Accused of Smuggling Drugs

Published 05/28 2013 04:17PM

Updated 05/28 2013 04:52PM

An American woman who went to Mexico for a family funeral has been stuck there for nearly a week, accused of smuggling drugs and facing a potential 10-year prison sentence.

Yanira Maldonado's family says she is a victim of Mexican corruption and is hopeful a judge frees her today.
Six days ago, Maldonado and her husband, Gary, were on a bus to Phoenix after going to her aunt's funeral in Mexico. The bus was stopped at a military checkpoint outside Hermosillo, about 170 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, their relatives said.

Soldiers ordered everyone off the bus and interrogated all the passengers, but didn't question the Maldonados -- Mormon parents of seven children, according to Gary's brother-in-law, Brandon Klippel, who also lives in the Phoenix area.

"They're very staunch Mormons. They're extremely active in their church, to the most far side that you could possibly be in the faith," Klippel said. "It's devastating."
Yanira has been charged with drug trafficking and possessing 5.7 kilos of marijuana "that were bungee-corded to the metal post beneath her seat. The minimum sentence is 10 years in federal prison," according to Klippel.

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