News Column

Woman's Stint in Mexican Jail a Warning to U.S. Tourists

June 3, 2013

The detention of an American woman after Mexican authorities said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat illustrates just one of the perils Americans face while traveling in Mexico.

Yanira Maldonado, 42, walked out of a prison on the outskirts of Nogales, Mexico, and into her husband's arms late Thursday after a judge dismissed drug-smuggling charges against her.

The judge determined Maldonado was no longer a suspect after viewing video that showed the couple climbing on the bus with just a purse, blankets and bottles of water.

"Many thanks to everyone, especially my God who let me go free, my family, my children, who with their help, I was able to survive this test," she said outside the jail before crossing through the Nogales port of entry into Arizona.

The governor of the Mexican state of Sonora, where Nogales is located, apologized for Maldonado's ordeal during a visit to Phoenix on Friday. He said he made sure she was safe and worked to ensure the court proceedings went quickly.

"In a few words I could say we're very sorry that she was in the wrong place in the wrong moment," Gov. Guillermo Padres Elias said. "But we're very glad that she's OK and she still says ... that she will continue visiting our country.

With shootouts and other violent crime pervasive in parts of Mexico, tourism has taken a hit, but popular places like Cancun are so well-protected that problems are rare.

Cartel violence is prominent on 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, especially by being used as a "blind mule" who doesn't know drugs have been put in their car or luggage.





Source: Copyright Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]


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