You may have seens stories or TV newscasts about a U.S. mother of seven from Arizona who's been arrested in Sonora for allegedly trafficking marijuana under her bus seat. The incident occurred May 22 when Yanira Maldonado and her husband Gary were returning home to Arizona from a funeral. Outside Hermosillo, the state capital, soldiers at a roadblock said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under their bus seat.
The Mormon couple has alleged their innocence and some 12,000 supporters have signed a Facebook page for her release (the husband, curiously, was not charged). The husband, according to this news report, says a judge asked for thousands of U.S. dollars to free the 42-year-old wife. A daughter told CNN she doesn't think her mother has "ever even tried a cigarette in her life or even drank a beer."
What is striking about this case -- besides how apparently clean living Americans have gotten snared in Mexico's judiciary -- is how often marijuana seems to be smuggled under bus seats in Mexico. It seems to be a perfect tactic for bus companies and drivers in cahoots with smugglers. In one case two years ago, a bus carried half a ton of marijuana carefully hidden under the seats of some 20 unwitting passengers. I don't immediately find other examples but remember reading of this every few months.
If you take a bus in Mexico, check under the seat before you settle in.
Maldonado's case, meanwhile, is drawing lots of attention. It came up at a press briefing Tuesday at the State Department, the Mexican Embassy in Washington issued a statement saying that her "due rights" are being respected, and Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake's office sent me a statement that he "has been in contact with the family, as well as officials in Mexico and the U.S. regarding the case. He will continue to monitor the situation.”