The family of a south Florida marine veteran is pleading for help in securing 27-year-old Jon Hammar’s release from a Mexican prison, where he has been held for roughly 4 months on what they describe as “trumped-up” gun charges.
Fox News explains:
In August, Hammar was traveling through Mexico on his way to Costa Rica for a surfing trip. He approached U.S. Customs about bringing along a gun that belonged to his great-grandfather. They advised him that he’d have to fill out a registration form and declare the weapon immediately upon crossing the border. Hammar tried to do just that, but was immediately arrested and has been in prison ever since.
Reuters has some information on how Hammar, who reportedly suffers from PTSD from the years he spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being treated in Mexico:
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.
“He’s getting more and more hopeless,” said [his mother] Olivia Hammar, who is the publisher of an architecture and interior design magazine.
He was isolated from the general population of the prison, at the request of U.S. Consular officials, after his parents received late-night phone calls saying he would be killed if they failed to make $1,400 payments into a Western Union account to ensure his safety.
“This is just an outrageous case,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and considers Hammar “a hero” because of his combat duty. [Emphasis added]
Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have also tried to help, the family says, but the results are virtually nonexistent. The State Department, which has a 2013 budget of over $51 billion, has also failed to make any tangible progress.
Hammar’s father, Jon Hammar Sr., weighed in: “We just don’t understand how it’s possible in a modern global world that we can have a neighbor so close that we’re so far away from.”
Bottom line, Hammar’s mother told Fox News today: “We need to end this fast.”
Watch her entire interview, via Fox News, below:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.