Yanira Maldonado: Arizona mom freed from Mexico jail after drug-smuggling charges dismissed


A US Border Patrol vehicle moves along the border fence with Mexico on June 22, 2011 in Nogales, Arizona.


John Moore

Arizona mom Yanira Maldonado was released from a Mexico jail on Thursday after being held for a week on drug-smuggling charges.

Maldonado, a 42-year-old mother of seven, walked out of the prison on the outskirts of Nogales, Mexico, late Thursday, and crossed into Arizona with her family in a small sedan shortly after midnight.

"Many thanks to everyone, especially my God who let me go free, my family, my children, who with their help, I was able to survive this test," she said.

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She also said that she still loves Mexico and the experience will not stop her from returning to the country to visit family there.

"It's not Mexico's fault. It's a few people who did this to me and probably other people, who knows?" Maldonado said. "I'm still going to go back."

Mexican authorities arrested Maldonado last week over allegations that she tried to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana under a bust seat.

She had been traveling from Mexico back to the United States with her husband, Gary, when their bus was stopped and searched. Maldonado was allegedly sitting above the illegal drugs.

But defense attorney Francisco Benitez argued that it wasn't possible that the Arizona woman had smuggled the drugs under her seat after showing security camera footage of the couple boarding the bus carrying a purse, two blankets and two bottles of water. He said nothing the pair was carrying could have held the amount of marijuana that was found.

It was deemed that the Mexican military officials who arrested Maldonado did not make their case in court, and the allegations were dismissed. The soldiers were scheduled to appear Wednesday, but didn't show up.

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