Yanira Maldonado walked out of a Nogales, Mexico prison late Thursday night after Mexican authorities cleared her of drug smuggling charges.
The 42-year-old mother of seven had been in a Mexican jail for a week after being accused of carrying drugs onto a bus she was traveling on en route back to the U.S. Maldonado and her husband, Gary Maldonado, had traveled by bus to Sonoroa, Mexico to attend a family funeral when all her problems began.
The couple were the only U.S. citizens aboard a bus traveling outside of Hermosillo, when it was stopped some 90 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Soldiers had set up a routine military checkpoint when the bus was stopped and passengers asked to exit. After a search authorities alleged they found 12 pounds of marijuana under Maldonado’s bus seat.
Maldonado and her supporters felt she was set up and obviously a Mexican judge agreed. The ruling was unusual only in that it was issued around midnight after video showed the Mormon mom boarding the bus with only her purse. In addition Mexican nationals that were on the bus testified that they never saw Maldonado with a large package similar to the one found under her seat.
The Arizona mother left jail greeted by her husband and well-wishers with the jail doors closing behind her. She briefly spoke to reporters outside the Mexican jail and said she still loves Mexico and will not be deterred from returning where she has family living.