15 years ago, a similar story of being jailed in MexicoPosted: Updated:
Nearly 15 years ago, a Scottsdale man went through a very similar situation near the Mexican border to what an Arizona woman is now experiencing.
Jim Brunen was arrested as he crossed into Mexico near Nogales because of ammunition he had in his car from a recent hunting trip.
"I had forgotten I had two boxes of 9-millimeter ammunition from a recent shooting trip. I pulled over to the Customs and declared it and offered to surrender it, and I was arrested and charged with the crime of introduction," he recalled.
That crime could have sent Brunen to jail for 30 years. Instead, he ended up spending 47 days in a Mexican prison.
"When I was there, it was just horrible. It was unsanitary," he said.
Mexican authorities released him, but the financial damage was done. Attorneys' bills, lost work and payments to government officials had taken their toll on Brunen's wallet.
"The cost to us was close to $100,000," he said.
Now, 15 years later, Brunen is watching a similar situation unfold with Yanira Maldonado. Mexican authorities have accused her of trying to smuggle marijuana out of the country. She was arrested May 22.
"I know what it's like to be in the inside, not have contact. (I know what it's like to) be in a foreign country and not have family or hope for that matter. So I hope for the best," Brunen said.
Brunen said the assistant judge who has to decide whether or not to release her by Friday might not make that decision.
"Most of the judges down there, like most civil servants, don't want to be at the center of attention. Probably the safest thing (for a judge's career) is to kick it down the road, and I'm afraid that might happen," Brunen said.
Brunen said he fears Maldonado could be behind bars for much longer, but he believes her best bet for freedom is continuous media attention and pressure from family and friends for her release.
"I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. (Don't) give up. I mean (the family) needs to make as much noise and bring as much attention to this and solicit as much other help as they can possibly get," Brunen said.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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