Elementary Teacher Accused Of Trying To Smuggle Pot Maintains Innocence

EL PASO, Texas - Ana Isela Martinez Amaya remembers the Thursday morning that changed her life. Martinez Amaya spoke with our newspartners Channel 44 from inside Ciudad Juarez's Cereso prison about May 26, the day Mexican authorities arrested her and accused her of trying to smuggle drugs into El Paso.

"I was getting ready to go to my job," said the 35-year-old. "I walked out of my house (that day), I started the engine of my car, then I went back into my house to get my belongings. I brought my daughter into the car and I put all my things right next to me."

Martinez Amaya said she was in the Stanton bridge express lane, which is how she usually commutes to the Sun City for her job as a 4th grade teacher at La Fe prep school. As she was waiting to go through, "one of the military officers told me to pull over," she said. "They started checking my car and they asked me to open the trunk."

Martinez Amaya said Mexican authorities found two pieces of luggage in her trunk. "They asked me if it belonged to me and I said no, I'd never seen it."

Martinez Amaya said she refused to open the luggage because she said it wasn't hers. "So (The Mexican official) opened it and he found the drugs inside."

Mexican authorities said they discovered 110 pounds of pot in the trunk of Martinez Amaya's car. The bust happened on the Juárez side of the Stanton bridge near downtown El Paso, according to Mexican officials.

Martinez Amaya maintains her innocence and wants to clear her name from inside the prison walls. "I'm not a drug dealer. I have been an honest person all my life. I just want authorities to know it's absolutely unfair to have me here because I'm not guilty," she said.

Martinez Amaya is a Mexican national. Her attorney said she was teaching at La Fe under a special visa.

A spokesperson for El Paso's La Fe Preparatory School confirmed late Saturday that Martinez Amaya is one of its educators.

The school is a small campus with grade levels Pre-Kindergarten through third, according to its website.

El Diario de Juárez reported Sunday that Martinez Amaya is a Mexican citizen who lives in Juárez but teaches in El Paso with a special visa.

Mexican media also reported Martinez Amaya was a teacher in the El Paso Independent School District.

An EPISD spokesperson would only confirm to ABC-7 that a person by the same name taught in the district before resigning in 2007.

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