Maldonado case spurs Mexico travel safety concerns

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- As the story of Yanira Maldonado spreads like wildfire across social media, a new Facebook site has emerged urging people to boycott Mexico tourism until Maldonado is freed.

“I just feel there’s a bigger picture,” said the site’s creator who wants to remain anonymous.

“There’s a lot of corruption in Mexico,” she said. “My concern is we need to put pressure on the government in Mexico and let them know we're not going to keep coming, and we're not going to put ourselves at risk anymore.  It's just getting so dangerous.”

However, Tufesa buses headed from Phoenix to south of the border remained packed Thursday night.  Maldonado was on a Tufesa bus when she was arrested and accused of smuggling 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat.

She’s maintained her innocence; her family says she’s been falsely accused and wrongfully detained.

“I’m hoping it was a fluke,” said Mike Penella who dropped off his wife and kids for a trip to Mexico to visit her family. He’s well aware of Yanira Maldonado’s story.

“I couldn’t imagine if this happened to my wife and kids,” said Penella. “I couldn’t imagine.”

Neither can Claudia Martinez who spoke to 3TV after she arrived home to Phoenix.

“It does scare you a little bit,” said Martinez who said she too was singled out and searched. “When I was getting my luggage, the lady pulled me to the side and said, ‘come with me,’” said Martinez.  “She told me to lift my shirt, and started searching.”

Martinez who has dual citizenship says in light of her own experience and Yanira Maldonado’s case, she now has concerns, she didn’t have before.

“Anything could happen,” said Martinez.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. State Department says Maldonado’s case has been monitored closely.

Click here for more information on travel safety to the region.