Nightly News   |  May 29, 2013

Mormon mother of 7 jailed, accused of drug smuggling

The family of Yanira Maldonado, who has spent more than a week behind bars in Mexico, says she was locked up for a crime she never committed. Maldonado was detained at a checkpoint after she and her husband attended a family member’s funeral. Mexican soldiers claimed to have found 12 pounds of marijuana underneath her seat. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> now to an international drama playing out in mexico . an american mother of seven jailed in mexico , accused of trying to smuggle drugs into the u.s. her family insists she is the victim of a set-up here. tonight the mexican embassy in washington says the u.s. and mexican governments are in close contact about this case. our report tonight from nbc's miguel almaguer.

>> reporter: tonight behind the walls of this notorious mexican jailhouse, an arizona mother of seven, a devout mormon, is accused of being an international drug runner. she's spent a week locked up behind bars for a crime her family said she's never committed.

>> i'm angry, upset. her own country would do this to her.

>> reporter: born in mexico , now an american citizen , maldonado was with her husband, traveling from hermosillo to their phoenix-area home after they say they attended a funeral. their bus was stopped by the mexican military when police say they found 12 pounds of marijuana strapped under her seat. the family says she never had knowledge of the marijuana. they say they are not sure it existed as they never saw police take it off the bus.

>> my wife is a loving mom, a great wife. a grandma. our one-year anniversary was this last saturday. she had to spend it in prison.

>> reporter: today her mexican attorney fought for her release inside this courthouse. she has still not been charged. a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for trial. meanwhile her story is spreading on social media . an arizona lawmaker and the u.s. state department are in contact with maldonado and her family.

>> we are working to schedule another visit with her. the last time we were able to visit with her was may 24.

>> reporter: tonight this mormon mother of seven remains in custody. an accused drug smuggler behind bars . miguel almaguer, nbc news, along the u.s./ mexico border.