Parents of ex-U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico say he’s losing hope
MIAMI (Reuters) – The mother of a former U.S. Marine jailed in a notoriously violent corner of northern Mexico said on Monday that her son was losing hope after being arrested in August for possessing a shotgun that was a family heirloom.
Jon Hammar, 27, was heading to Costa Rica to go surfing when he crossed into Matamoros, Mexico, from Brownsville, Texas, in a beat-up old Winnebago motor home he and a friend bought especially for the trip.
He had registered the shotgun with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on the U.S. side of the border, declaring he planned to take it with him into Mexico.
Despite being told that the shotgun, a Sear & Roebuck model that once belonged to his great-grandfather, posed no problem Hammar was arrested as soon as he crossed into Mexico. The arrest came when he tried to register the gun with Mexican customs officials, his parents and their Mexican attorney told Reuters.
“The crux of it is the length of the barrel,” said his mother, Olivia Hammar, 46, of Palmetto Bay, Florida. “There’s an old law on the books that says it can’t be under 25 inches,” she said. “It’s a 2-foot barrel and it can’t be under 25 inches … . It’s strictly a technicality.”
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Hammar was charged with possession of a deadly weapon. And the family lawyer, Eddie Varon-Levy, said Hammar faces up to 12 years in prison if he is found guilty.
Making matters worse, Hammar suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the death of a fellow Marine who was killed by a sniper’s bullet when the two served together in Falluja, Iraq. He had just completed treatment for PTSD at a center for veterans in California last year, before getting caught up in his misadventure in Matamoros.
His ordeal there, in one of the most violent corners of Mexico, has included being shackled to a bed and receiving death threats and extortion demands from drug cartel gangsters who run the prison known as CEDES in Matamoros like their personal fiefdom, Hammar’s parents say.
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