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Mormon woman sent to Mexican prison in horrifying drug case

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A U.S. woman remains in Mexican custody today after she was accused of attempting to smuggle drugs into the United States. The accusations are suspicious however, and the accused woman doesn't fit the profile of a trafficker.

PHOENIX, AZ (Catholic Online) - Yarina Maldonado, 42, was arrested a week ago after soldiers stopped her bus in the town of Hermosillo, 170 miles south of the border. The solders searched the bus and said they found two packages of marijuana.

Maldonado is a mother to seven children and a devout Mormon. Her family says she would never do such a thing. Maldonado was in Mexico with her husband, Gary, for the funeral of her aunt. There's no motive or indication that she would be a drug trafficker.

Nonetheless, on the testimony of the soldiers, she was arrested and jailed.

Her family has been unable to free her, nor have diplomatic efforts from the U.S. Consulate been successful. On the advice of their Mexican lawyer, the family even tried bribing officials with $5,000. The bribe was rejected.

However, no bribe may be necessary. According to her family who was present for the initial hearing, both soldiers provided inconsistent testimony as to where the drugs were found. This casts serious doubt that the drugs belonged specifically to Maldonado.

 Today, Maldonado will return to court for a further hearing on the case. If the prosecution cannot solidify its accusation, the family hopes she will go free.

Maldonado hasn't been officially charged, but is currently housed in a Mexican prison for women.

The family is worried that if Maldonado isn't freed today, she could be moved around in the system and lost. The Mexican prison system is infamous for keeping poor records and prisoners are often lost with families not knowing where their incarcerated loved ones have been sent.

In fact, the family told the Associated Press, Maldonado was lost on her first day in the prison, with nobody being able to locate her for U.S. officials.

Mexican officials are not commenting on the case because it is pending. 

The family believes if the case were in the U.S. she would have already been released. Unfortunately, the laws in Mexico are different.

According to the U.S. State Department, the situation could be much more serious than the Maldonado family thinks. A judge is expected to rule on the case on Friday. If the judge cannot reach a decision, then Maldonado will be transferred to another facility where she will be housed for several months as her case works its way to trial.

The U.S. Consulate is in contact with the family and is providing what assistance it can. The family also says that Maldonado is doing poorly in prison, unable to adjust to the sudden shock and the treatment in the facility.

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