• Renton activist faces 1,000 years in Mexican prison

    By: Maria Guerrero

    Updated:

    RENTON, Wash. - There’s been a major setback in the fight to bring home a Renton activist imprisoned in Mexico.

    Not only has a new effort to free her failed -- her attorney says she faces 1,000 years in prison.

    Jose Luis Avila can’t believe his wife, Nestora Salgado, may never be set free.

    “If you do something that is wrong you should be killed or end up in prison,” he said from his Renton home. "But when you are working for something that's right, under the law you know, and the next day you are in a maximum security prison, it's really hard."

    Salgado is a U.S. citizen and Renton resident who's been jailed in Mexico for 18 months.

    She's accused of kidnapping dozens of people in her hometown in the state of Guerrero.

    She claims she arrested criminals and a corrupt official -- as the leader of a policing group made up of indigenous people, allowed under state law.

    KIRO 7 previously reported the interim governor of Guerrero has asked the new prosecutor in the case to drop the charges against Salgado.

    But just this week, the new prosecutor refused to do so.

    Avila thinks the federal government wants this case to send a message to others.

    "Even the worst criminal in Mexico right now, like the worst kidnapping people we know, they're facing only 43 years in prison,” said Avila. “But Nestora, an indigenous woman, is facing almost a thousand years in prison."

    Salgado's new attorney from Mexico is one of the few who've seen her in person.

    He traveled to Washington to brief her family on the case.

    We asked how she looks and is feeling.

    “I can tell she has lost considerable weight,” said Leonel Rivero Rodriguez. “She's also gone without medications for health conditions."

    There have been many demonstrations across the country and in Seattle demanding her release.

    At Salgado's home in Renton, we saw several pictures of family trips to Mount Rainier.

    "We loved to go hiking," said Avila.

    Salgado grew up in a mountainous region and loves the outdoors.

    There is also a picture of her behind bars.

    Her family is prepared to fight the case, which could take up to five years to resolve.

    "We are not going to stop fighting until my wife is coming back home," said Avila.

    Salgado's attorney is concerned she will not get a fair trial.

    Salgado’s family is also angry no Washington state lawmaker has stepped in to help except Rep. Adam Smith.

    This case could end up in the Mexican Supreme Court.

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