A week ago, Yanira Maldonado, a 42 year-old-mother of seven, was sitting in a Mexican jail not knowing if she would return home or be exported to Mexican prisons the rest of her life never to be found by her family.
Yanira was arrested 2 weeks ago when Mexican authorities stopped the bus she and her husband were traveling in on their way home from her aunt’s funeral to Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix. The bus was stopped at a military check-point 90 miles from the Mexican border. Military police ordered all passengers off the bus and rushed onto the vehicle.
Hours earlier, Maldonado and her husband Gary were the last passengers to board the bus. Yanira sat in seat 39 and Mr. Maldonado sat in seat 40.
When Mexican officials searched the bus they found 12 pounds of Marijuana neatly packaged and taped under seats 39 (Yanira’s seat) and seat 42 located directly behind her seat.
The passenger sitting in seat 42 fled the scene. Gary Maldonado, Yanira’s husband, who was sitting next to her in seat 42 was escorted by police for questioning. Yanira, not wanting to leave her husband’s side begged officials to allow her to come along and translate since her husband does not speak Spanish. Yanira is a naturalized American born in Mexico. The police decided to release Mr. Maldonado and arrest Yanira.
Corrupt Mexican police officers insinuated that Mr. Maldonado should hand over $5,000 in exchange for releasing his wife. He quickly rounded up the money from family members only to have the offer rebutted.
The Mexican judicial system is known for its corruption and slapdash method of due process. Yanira’s fate was dependent upon a Mexican judge going over evidence and deciding if Yaneria would be sent to a Mexican prison or be released.
Fortunately, other passengers remembered Mrs. Maldonado boarding the bus with only her purse and two water bottles in hand. Luckily, witness testimonies, a check into Yanira’s personal and financial background, and bus video footage were enough evidence for the Mexican judge to be convinced of Yanira’s innocence.
Yanira’s faith and patience paid off last Thursday evening when her cell door was unlocked and her husband walked her out of a Nogales jail.
The Maldonado’s still plan to return to Mexico, but from now on they will probably be springing for airfare rather than saving money by taking the bus.