Arizona Mom Held in Mexico Jail Falsely Accused of Smuggling Drugs, Family Says

PHOTO: Yanira Maldonado, right, shown with husband, Gary, in this photo posted on Facebook, is being held in a Nogales, Mexico jail after authorities said they found drugs under her bus seat.PlayFacebook
WATCH Arizona Mom Framed in Mexico With Drugs, Family Claims

The family of an Arizona mother of seven who was detained on drug charges in Mexico said they are hopeful she will be released today after what they say is evidence of her innocence is presented to a judge.

Yanira Maldonado, 41, was detained last Wednesday in Hermosillo, Mexico, after authorities said they found drugs under her bus seat.

"We fully expect Yanira to be released as the evidence of her innocence is overwhelming. We have been gathering witnesses, letters, and other evidence for the case all day yesterday and this morning," her brother-in-law Brandon Klippel told in an email.

The family's ordeal began last Wednesday when Maldonado and her husband, Gary--both US citizens--were returning from a funeral in Mexico when the bus they were traveling on was stopped at a military checkpoint outside of Hermosillo, Sonora, Klippel said.

Everyone was ordered off the bus and huddled in a small room with an x-ray machine for their luggage, Klippel said.

"After everyone on the bus had been waiting over two hours a soldier approached Gary, took his identification and said 'unfortunately there were drugs found under your seat,'" Klippel wrote in an account on the family's Facebook page.

Maldonado waited for an attorney, according to Klippel, when authorities told him he was free to go and that the drugs were actually found beneath Yanira's bus seat and she was being arrested.

The family said an attorney told them they could bribe the judge, so Maldonado frantically had family wire him $5,000 for the bribe. But he says though the money was offered it was not accepted.

Maldonado was told later that his wife had been transferred to a holding facility in the border town of Nogales, Klippel said.

If a judge rules against Maldonado, Klippel said she could wait in jail for months while police investigate her case.

The office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake said he is monitoring the case and has been in contact with Maldonado's family, as well as officials in Mexico and the U.S.