“It feels so great,” Maldonado said at a press conference Friday. “I’m so happy to be home.”
Yanira’s sister-in-laws from Utah, Becky Maldonado and Amy Rayner, traveled to Arizona to be with her. They always kept hope a judge would free Maldonado.
“We just jumped for joy when we found out,” Rayner said by phone Friday.
Before Maldonado’s release, Mexican court officials reviewed surveillance footage of Yanira and Gary Maldonado boarding the bus. It showed Yanira carrying a medium-sized purse and two water bottles, while Gary carried blankets.
The Mexican soldiers who claimed they found 12 pounds of marijuana under Maldonado’s bus seat never went to court to make their case against her.
Maldonado said despite what happened she hoped her experience wouldn’t discourage others from visiting Mexico. She did warn others to be careful.
“I really think that what happened to me can happen to anybody,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado hoped her story will prompt change in Mexico. She said Mexico’s justice system needs to be fixed to prevent her experience from happening to someone else.
Maldonado has family in Mexico and plans to return to visit them.
“She has just been full of smiles and smiling all the time,” Rayner said. “She doesn't even look like she's been in jail for a week.”
Rayner said the family couldn’t be more grateful. They believe the coverage of Maldonado’s story is part of the reason she is free.
“We’re just happy,” Rayner added. “We just had way too much help that it really helped us out to get her out.”