TODAY

TODAY   |  May 29, 2013

US mom held in Mexico for drug smuggling

Yanira Maldonado has been in Mexican custody for a week, accused of attempting to smuggle marijuana on a bus in Northern Mexico. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>> that story and a whole lot more, but first the story of an arizona woman fighting for her release this morning. this married mother of seven is behind bars in mexico accused of trying to smuggle drugs. miguel almaguer is in arizona with the latest on this, good morning.

>> reporter: yanira maldonado is being held in mexico . on tuesday the court heard from witnesses who kept help the mormon mother now an accused drug smuggler win back her freedom. yanira and gary maldonado traveled from their phoenix-area mom to mexico to the funeral of yanira's aunt. at home their bus was stopped at a checkpoint where soldiers searched their vehicle and said they found more than 12 pounds of marijuana strapped to the underside of yanira's seat. her family says it wasn't her.

>> my mom, she's a loving mom, a great wife and a grandma, and she just had a grand baby three weeks ago, so we were there for the birth and actually our one-year anniversary was this last saturday. we had -- she had to spend it in prison.

>> reporter: maldonado , an american citizen originally from mexico , was moved from hermosillo to a jail in nogales, her family in the united states , members of the latter day saint church are working on her behalf.

>> gary said don't give in or sign anything without the lawyer.

>> reporter: u.s. state department and u.s. senator jeff flake say they are monitoring the situation, communicating with mexican authorities and the maldonado family, but with their mother remaining in what her family calls difficult jailhouse conditions, every day apart feels like an eternity.

>> it's just unbelievable, you know. i felt like it's a move, a nightmare. i want to wake up, and there's no way to. i'm like there's no way to escape.

>> reporter: maldonado will be back in court today. she hasn't officially been charged with a crime. the hearing is to determine if there's enough evidence for a trial. a judge is expected to make that decision by friday. savannah?

>> all right. miguel almaguer across the bordner nogales. we're joined by yanira maldonado 's bother anna soto and her brother-in-law. good morning to both of you.

>> good morning.