TODAY

TODAY   |  May 29, 2013

Family: Mom held for drugs had ‘nothing to do with it’

Yanira Maldonado, a married mother of seven, has been in custody for a week in Mexico after being accused of trying to smuggle marijunana on a bus, allegations she and her family deny. Her daughter and brother-in-law speak out and NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we're joined by yanira maldonado's bother anna soto and her brother-in-law. good morning to both of you.

>> good morning.

>> brandon , let me start with you. as i understand it, yanira was able to speak to her husband gary on the phone as recently as yesterday. how is she doing?

>> she's -- she's scared. she's in a prison that's got horrible conditions. she's not very happy about the situation at all as you can imagine, but she's very hopeful and after yesterday's witnesses and testimony, she's really looking forward tock reunited with her family soon.

>> i want to ask you about that in a moment. anna , if i understand it, you actually got to see her on saturday and visited her in jail. what did you observe about the jail conditions, and how did she seem to you?

>> well, i can tell you they are not very professional. the guards there were kind of rude. when i first pulled up, we kind of had to walk up this little dirt slump area, and there was a prison guard standing out there with his gun, you know, just holding it right over her shoulders so that already gave me a bad vibe about it and then the gate -- i don't know. we had no privacy at all, you know. luckily we both speak english, and we got to talk, you know, a little bit.

>> yeah.

>> but didn't feel comfortable about anything there.

>> brandon , as we just heard, yanira and her husband were on a bus ride coming home from a family we hadding in mexico. the mexican police, the federal authorities pulled it over and said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under their seat. what do you really think happened here?

>> well, you know, i talked to gary because they originally arrested him and told them that the drugs were found beneath his seat, and, you know, i asked him. could they have been there? would you have seen them? he said that he didn't see anything, that they never showed him any drugs. he doesn't know if they ever existed in the first place. we just know that they had nothing to do with it. whether they were there beforehand or whether they were planted there by somebody else.

>> so do you suspect at all, anna , that perhaps they were looking for a bribe?

>> you know, that's what i've heard of in the past, but, you know, i don't know. i mean, it's just things that i've heard but i don't know what they wanted. i just know that my mom was there at a bad time.

>> brandon , as we just heard there, there haven't been charges filed yet, but that decision could come in a couple of days, at which point she may be held in that mexican jail for some time. i mean, what is your greatest fear here?

>> well, you know, our greatest fear right now is that our sister will be -- will be lost, you know. one of the things the attorney said to us right at the beginning was that once you're in the federal prison system, they move you around without keeping good records. in fact, she was lost for the first day in the prison system when this first started, so if she's moved and transported around, we may never see our sister again, and that's -- that's something that would -- that would just be devastating to our family.

>> well, brandon and anna soto, i know you've reached out to authorities here in the united states . please keep us posted on what happens here. we appreciate your time.