Jailed in Mexico: Mother of 7 fights drug smuggling allegation - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Jailed in Mexico: Arizona mother of 7 fights drug smuggling allegation

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Gary and Yanira Maldonado Gary and Yanira Maldonado
Drugs Yanira Maldonado is accused of smuggling (Courtesy: Dustin Jones) Drugs Yanira Maldonado is accused of smuggling (Courtesy: Dustin Jones)
NOGALES, Ariz. -

The attorney for an Arizona woman being held on drug charges in Mexico says he's confident the mother of seven could be released by Friday.

42-year-old Yanira Maldonado appeared for a court hearing Wednesday and Thursday, during which her lawyer argued that the charges against his client were baseless.

The key piece of evidence: video showing Maldonado and her husband Gary boarding the bus. She's carrying her purse, a bottle of water, and a blanket.

The attorney says it would've been impossible for her to sneak the large bundles of marijuana onto the bus, and not enough time to hide them under her seat.

Maldonado's arrest has prompted outrage in the U.S. among politicians and her family members, who say she was framed when her bus was stopped at a military checkpoint last week and authorities found nearly 12 pounds of marijuana under her seat.

Maldonado and her husband were returning from her aunt's funeral at the time of the arrest.

It's a nightmare scenario of a mother being caught up in a drug case and sent to prison in a judicial system that has long struggled with corruption.

It's been a grueling week for Gary knowing his wife is behind bars in a Mexican prison, accused of a crime he says she did not commit. But he believes their case is going well.

"All our witnesses yesterday came in for us... the ones that were on the bus that made us more optimistic and it makes you feel better that we had our witnesses come, the gave good testimonies and then the soldiers didn't come in today to give testimony into what they put into this report, which to me just shows this is made up bogus stuff," said Gary on Wednesday.

Phoenix-based lawyer Dustin Jones has been aiding in the case.  He says the allegations from Mexican officials are full of holes.

"They have allegations that they colluded, they actually used the word colluded with the driver of the bus which just seems preposterous because they were the last ones to arrive, the last ones to sit on the bus and they took the last two empty seats," said Jones.

Now it is in the hands of the judge in this case. The Maldonado's tell us the judge has until Friday at 6 p.m. to make her decision to drop the charges and free Yanira or if she has to face trial.

A lot of people in the valley are showing support for Yanira.  On Wednesday night, friends of the family along with members of the Mormon Church gathered near 3rd Street and McDowell, asking to free Yanira.  Supporters were seen holding signs, demanding justice for someone they say was wrongfully accused.

"This is a really big injustice.. not only for their family, but for all Americans," said Celeste Goetz.  "We came out here to support Gary and his wife and we feel like they were wrongly accused and that we need to stand up for them."

Supporters at the rally believe Yanira is innocent and say they hope to bring more attention to her case.

Gary says Yanira has been praying, reading the Book of Mormon and fasting while in prison.

FOX 10 crews will be at the border Friday for the court hearing.

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