Arizona Mother Accused of Drug Smuggling

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

A 42-year-old model citizen has an incredible attitude while sitting in a Mexican jail after being arrested for smuggling 12-pounds of marijuana. Yanira Maldonado, resident of Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, says she “has nothing to hide.”  Photo courtesy kmbc.com

Maldonado and her husband, Gary, were returning from her aunt’s funeral in Mexico when the bus they were traveling in was stopped at a military checkpoint 90 miles from the U.S. border. Mexican federales ordered all passengers out of the vehicle and searched the bus.

Maldonado’s nightmare began when 12-pounds of pot was found neatly packaged and taped under seat 39 where she was sitting. Maldonado automatically became a prime suspect for attempting to smuggle the parcels and was arrested on the spot. 

The Mormon woman raising seven children was initially shocked, but now she is calming down and believing she will be found innocent and be able to return home. Anna Soto, one of Maldonado's daughters, knows her mother would never be guilty of smuggling drugs and anxiously wants her to return home where she belongs.

Gary Maldonado, Yanira’s husband, says he was originally told to pay off the judge with $5,000 for releasing his wife. He immediately raised the money only to have the deal turned down. Gary Maldonado says, “The Mexican legal system is a far cry from the judicial process in the U.S.”

Due process will take place for Maldonado’s case when all of the testimonies are documented by the Judge’s secretary. The judge will make a decision about Maldonado’s fate by assessing the evidence. American Embassy officials are monitoring Maldonado’s due process rights.

Maldonado’s family is hopeful she will return to the U.S., but their biggest fear is that their beloved wife and mother will be lost in the Mexican prison system. She has no control over being relocated to different prisons making it impossible for her family to track her down.  

Attorney, Jose Francisco Benitez Paz was hired by the Maldonado family last Friday. Benitez is hopeful Maldonado’s overwhelming evidence will prove her innocent and she will be released.

Maldonado and her husband boarded the bus last. Witnesses claim they did not see any drugs on Maldonado when she boarded the bus. Odds were not on Maldonado’s side when she sat in the last seat on the bus.

Benitez pointed out that the drug smuggling project was very professionally carried out. The packets of pot were carefully wrapped and attached to the bottom of the bus seat with metal hooks. It would have been impossible for Maldonado to pull off such a task. She obviously has been framed.

Lately, it has been common for Mexican drug traffickers to use passenger buses for transporting drugs into the U.S. 

Even with all of the positive evidence and clean background check on Maldonado, she is entrapped in a shady justice system.

Maldonado celebrated her one year wedding anniversary last week alone in a Mexican jail without her husband.

Next Friday a Mexican judge will decide the Arizona mother’s fate. Unfortunately, there will not be a jury trial. Most of the testimony is written and the Judge makes the final sentencing decision.

Hopefully, Maldonado will be spending her second wedding anniversary safe and sound with her husband in the U.S.