Brenda Martin, a Canadian who spent more than two years in a Mexican prison before being transferred to Canada earlier this month, was granted parole Friday and released from a southern Ontario jail.
Martin, from Trenton, Ont., had been working in Mexico and was found guilty in April of money laundering by a Mexican judge. She had been in a Guadalajara-area jail since 2006, with the past few months spent sedated and on suicide watch.
On May 1, Martin was flown in a government-chartered jet to Waterloo, Ont., where she was taken to the nearby Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener by Corrections Service of Canada officials. The flight cost Canadian taxpayers $82,727, CBC News learned.
The parole board said that Martin is considered a first-time offender and would be unlikely to commit a violent crime if released.
Martin said she found out at about 4:30 p.m. ET Friday that she'd been granted full parole.
"I was waiting all day," Martin told reporters as she left the prison in a car driven by her longtime friend Deb Tieleman. "When two guards came … and they said, 'Brenda, your parole officer wants to see you,' I went, 'Oh my God, maybe I'm getting out.'"
Martin and Tieleman, who were both highly critical of the federal government's response to her case, were en route to Trenton to see Martin's mother.
Martin was eligible for parole immediately upon arrival at a Canadian facility, as she had already served one-third of her sentence, counting time served before the verdict.
The parole board ordered Martin not to associate with known criminals and she is required to make financial disclosures, the CBC's Paul Hunter said.
"What isn't a surprise is overall that it was an accelerated process," he said. "I think everyone from the get-go understood that this would happen relatively quickly."
Martin, 51, was accused of participating in a $60 million internet fraud scheme run by Canadian Alyn Waage, who was convicted in the U.S. in 2006 of fraud and is serving a 10-year term in an American prison.
Mexican investigators said Martin, who worked as Waage's chef in Puerto Vallarta for 10 months, accepted a severance package knowing the money came from the scam.
Martin maintained her innocence, saying she knew nothing of Waage's schemes. Waage's testimony corroborated her story.