NOGALES, Mexico — A hearing opened Tuesday in a Mexican court in Nogales in the case of an Arizona woman accused of smuggling 13 pounds of marijuana through a Mexican Army checkpoint.
Gary Maldonado maintains his wife Yanira, mother of seven, is innocent. He says they were traveling up from visiting family in Sinaloa on a bus when the Mexican Army stopped the bus to search it. The Army said the marijuana was found under Yanira Maldonado's seat.
Gary Maldonado claims he has no idea how the marijuana got there. His wife was arrested in Mexico and now faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Gary wept as he talked about the case outside the federal courthouse a short distance from the U.S. border.
“This has been a terrible experience on me, my wife, my family,” he said.
The case has sparked some careful international attention. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he’s monitoring the situation. A State Department spokesman said embassy staff is making certain that Yanira Maldonado’s rights under Mexican law have not been violated.
Gary Maldonado says some prison guards have been treating his wife well, and even brought her a change of clothes.
“She wanted a Book of Mormon because that’s her faith and she found one in the library finally. So that’s been keeping her strong,” he said.
But his father, Yanira’s father-in-law Larry Maldonado, claims the Mexican federal guards are also putting psychological pressure on her. They’ve awoken her at night giving her documents to sign. He said she signed some and she couldn’t see what they said.
“She didn’t have her glasses and they woke her up in the middle of the night saying you need to sign this,” he said.
The Mexican soldiers who said they found the marijuana will testify Wednesday. The judge in the case has until Friday afternoon to decide whether or not to hold her.
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