Yanira Maldonado was held behind bars in a Mexican prison for more than a week before being released on Thursday. Mexican officials claimed that the woman had attempted to smuggle large quantities of marijuana from Mexico into the United States. Maldonado, who was born in Mexico and is a naturalized United States citizen, was traveling to Mexico with her husband to attend her aunt’s funeral. The couple have made the trip to Mexico many times in the past, but usually by car – this time the took a public bus. When the bus was stopped at a checkpoint in Querobabi, passengers were asked to exit the vehicle so that officials could do a thorough inspection. They found marijuana stashed under Maldonado’s seat and immediately arrested her, accusing her of hiding the drugs to transport them to the United States.
Maldonado was released due in part to surveillance footage the showed her and her husband boarding the bus with only blankets, bottles of water and a handbag. It would have been impossible for Maldonado to stash the large bags of marijuana under these possessions, and so she was declared not guilty. Her husband, Gary, claims that another passenger on the bus fled the scene when officials began the search, indicating that he could have been the true owner of the drugs. Gary also mentioned that the Mexican prison initially demanded a $5,000 bribe for his wife’s release.
Mexico has become notorious for drug issues and corruption, mainly because of the drug smuggling practice along the U.S. and Mexican border. The violence associated with these issues has reached alarming levels, and certain areas of Mexico have become extremely unsafe in terms of travel. Maldonado, who is no longer a suspect in this stressful situation, has said that her family, including seven children, will very likely avoid additional trips to Mexico in the future until the border situation improves.
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