Massive marijuana haul uncovered

Last updated 13:15 29/05/2013

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A US woman is jailed in Mexico on accusations that she tried to smuggle nearly 12 pounds (5.4kg) of marijuana into the United States.

A court hearing was held today in the northern state of Sonora for 42-year-old Yanira Maldonado.

Maldonado and her husband said they were returning from a funeral last Wednesday when the bus they were on was stopped at a military checkpoint.

Maldonado was arrested after soldiers reported finding the marijuana underneath her seat, according to a spokeswoman for the army in Sonora.

Gary Maldonado said his wife was framed and said authorities originally demanded US$5000 for her release.

Yanira Maldonado was taken to a state prison after being turned over to federal prosecutors, said army spokeswoman Denisse Coronado. A federal judge will decide whether Maldonado should face trial, Coronado said.

The Mexican Embassy in Washington said in a statement that Yanira Maldonado’s ‘‘rights to a defence counsel and due process are being observed’’.

The embassy didn’t respond to allegations she was framed.

Gary Maldonado’s brother-in-law, Brandon Klippel, said officers from the checkpoint were expected to testify at a hearing today.

Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesman for the US State Department in Mexico, confirmed Maldonado’s arrest, but referred questions to her attorney and Mexican authorities.

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- AP

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