Family says Ariz. mother wrongfully held in Mexico

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- An Arizona mother is being held in a Mexican prison on drug charges. Her family says she is being falsely accused.

Yanira Maldonado and her husband Gary were coming home from a funeral in Sinaloa, Mexico last Wednesday when the commercial bus they were on was stopped in Hermosillo.

Mexican Federal Police claimed they found marijuana under Maldonado’s seat and she was taken to a women's prison in Nogales, Mexico.

Her brother in-law, Brian Neerings created a Facebook page titled "Falsely accused and detained in Mexico," to bring awareness to the situation. 

“I am hopeful because I do feel she did not do what she's being accused of,” said Neerings.

According to family, they could have paid money to have her released, but by the time they had the money together, it was too late, the deal was off the table.

Maldonado was born in Mexico and speaks Spanish but she hasn’t lived there for decades.

She married Neerings’ brother in-law one year ago Saturday. The couple has seven children.

“From the time I've known her I can vouch for her that she's a good person and that she's never been involved with drugs or illegal activity,” said Neerings.

Neerings and Gary visited Maldonado in prison on Sunday.

“We were able to see her through a metal grate and at the time she put her hands up against the grate and my brother in-law and Yanira's son were able to touch hands through the grate and she expressed her love and it was very tearful,” said Neerings.

Sen. Jeff Flake, (R) Arizona, is now involved. His press secretary sent this statement to 3TV: “Senator Flake is personally monitoring the situation and he has had multiple conversations with the deputy mexican ambassador this weekend."

On the trip back from Mexico, Neerings said Flake called Gary and the two talked about the situation.

Family members have appeared on CNN hoping to bring national attention to Maldonado’s story.