AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – The American woman who was jailed for a week after Mexican authorities said they found marijuana under her bus seat said she’ll return to Mexico someday.
But she’s going to drive her car.
Yanira Maldonado returned to her suburban Phoenix home on Friday, a day after a judge in Nogales, Mexico, dismissed drug smuggling charges.
The 42-year-old mother walked out of a prison on the outskirts of Nogales, Mexico, late Thursday night after a judge determined she was no longer a suspect, following a review of a video that showed she and her husband, Gary, climbing on the bus with just a purse, blankets and bottles of water.
“What happened to me can happen to anyone,” she said Friday of her weeklong detention after Mexican authorities said they found marijuana under her bus seat.
The Maldonados arrived home Friday afternoon to be reunited with their seven children. Her family said she is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico. The couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary while she was jailed.
Maldonado said she didn’t blame her home country but Mexican authorities should do a better job of arresting drug smugglers “and not people who are innocent like me.”
Her arrest and detention after Mexican authorities said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat illustrates just one of the perils Americans face while traveling south of the border.
Kidnappings and cartel violence are prominent among the U.S. State Department’s lengthy set of warnings about travel in Mexico. But there are also warnings about getting caught up in drug smuggling, either by being used as a “blind mule” who doesn’t know drugs have been put in their car or luggage, or by being strong-armed by smugglers who threaten harm if a person doesn’t carry drugs.
Maldonado also may have been caught up in a shakedown by Mexican police who were seeking a bribe. Her husband said police sought $5,000 to let her go.
An Arizona sheriff who has spent more than 40 years along the Mexican border said Maldonado’s case probably was a shakedown.
“They’ve got some good, courageous law enforcement officers in Mexico,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. “Coupled with that, you’ve got really corrupt ones too. And that goes at all levels.”
The Maldonados were traveling home to the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear after attending her aunt’s funeral in the city of Los Mochis when they were arrested.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food