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Family of woman jailed in Mexico says she is innocent

May 29, 2013 at 4:49 PM

HERMOSILLO, Mexico, May 29 (UPI) -- An Arizona mother of seven has spent the last week in a Mexican jail, accused of smuggling marijuana, but family members say she is the victim of a mistake.

Yanira Maldonado was returning from a funeral in Mexico with her husband Gary May 22 when their bus passed through a Hermosillo, Mexico, checkpoint. The marijuana, 12 pounds, was found under her seat, and she has been attempting to prove her innocence since, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

She is being held in a Sonora, Mexico, prison, her father-in-law, Larry Maldonado said.

Her family vehemently denies the charge and has suggested authorities deliberately arrested Yanira, a Mormon from Goodyear, Ariz., to get bribe money, CNN reported, adding a Mexican state official told CNN it appears she was framed.

"She's an honest woman. She's innocent. She's not that kind of person. I don't think she's ever even tried a cigarette in her life, or even drank a beer," said her daughter, Anna Soto.

The case has attracted national attention since the family began publicizing it on social media, the newspaper said, noting U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has spoken with Mexico's deputy ambassador to the United States, Mabel Gomez Oliver, about the issue.

A federal judge in Nogales, Mexico, heard witnesses Tuesday.

The family hopes to hear by Friday whether the case will be dismissed, Larry Maldonado said.

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