Sonora Governor Reassures Arizona Visitors

By Jude Joffe-Block
May 31, 2013

PHOENIX -- The governor of the Mexican state of Sonora says Arizonans can expect protection and support from his government when visiting the state.

His comments follow the release of an Arizona woman from Mexican jail who it appears was wrongfully accused of trafficking drugs in the Mexican border state.

Yanira Maldonado of Goodyear, Ariz. was on a bus in Sonora last week when the Mexican military found 13 pounds of marijuana under her seat. She was released late Thursday, after more than a week in jail, when video footage revealed she was carrying few possessions when she boarded the bus.

Sonora Governor Guillermo Padrés Elías spoke to reporters in Phoenix on Friday. He pledged to protect Arizona tourists.

"I guarantee you that the state of Sonora, is always going to be on your side, we are always going to provide all assistance to help you have a good time," Padrés Elías said. "Sonora is for having a good time."

Drug violence has threatened tourism in Mexican border states for years now.

Padrés Elías said the Mexican federal government was trying to do its job of apprehending drugs at the checkpoint where Maldonado was arrested.

"They are trying to make sure that drug trafficking doesn't continue and to fight it," Padrés Elías said. "And in that case, [Maldonado] was just at the wrong place at the wrong moment. We didn't like that of course. We are just glad this had a very happy ending."

The episode seems to have been a bonding experience for two governments that have had tensions in the past.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer publicly thanked Gov. Padrés Elías for his help with Maldonado's release. She said his staff was in touch with her staff daily.

"They moved this thing so swiftly and quickly, they gave her all the comforts that she could possibly need when she was down there in an unfortunate situation," Brewer said. "But it was because of the government of the state of Sonora that she is back now in Arizona with her family."

Both governors were in Phoenix together on Friday to address a manufacturing summit.