A letter sent by a Mexican ambassador to a U.S. congresswoman seems to indicate that Jon Hammar, the former Marine jailed in a notorious Mexican prison on a questionable gun charge, will not be home in time for Christmas this year.
Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan sent the two-page letter to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), which leaves very little hope that a diplomatic solution is imminent, FoxNews.com reports. In the letter, Sarukhan blasted the flow of weapons purchased in the U.S. into Mexico, which then end up in the hands of "criminal organizations."
"As you know well, Mexico has had very stringent gun-control laws in place for many years, and have reinforced their application as a result of the flow of weapons illicitly purchased in the U.S. and then trafficked into Mexico and into the hands of transnational criminal organizations," Sarukhan wrote.
The irony is, the letter almost sounds like an accurate description of the disastrous federal gun-walking program known as Operation Fast and Furious, carried out under the Obama administration. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix allowed more than 2,000 guns to walk across the border and into the hands of drug cartel members. They were supposed to "track" the guns, but they lost them and the guns were later used in a variety of violent crimes.
Hammar has been sitting in a "notorious drug cartel-controlled prison" in Mexico since Aug. 13, when he crossed the southern border and declared an antique shotgun to Mexican customs officials. They impounded his RV and arrested him and his friend for possessing an illegal gun, though the friend was later released.
The Matamoros jail (CEDES) where Hammar is incarcerated is located in the state Tamaulipas, which is reportedly controlled by the notorious Los Zetas cartel.
FoxNews.com has more details on the situation:
Hammar’s father said the letter is fraught with statements at odds with what he knows and what his son has told him.
"There are huge inaccuracies about what is happening in their system," Jon Hammar Sr., said.
Sarukhan said Hammar was arrested for possession of a weapon that, according to Mexican law, is restricted for the exclusive use of the Mexican Armed Forces.
But high-ranking Mexican military officials have told Hammar's attorney, Eddie Varon-Levy, that the gun Hammar tried to declare shortly after crossing into Mexico on his way to Costa Rica is not the type of firearm the laws are meant to block. The gun Hammar claims he also declared to U.S. Customs and border protection is a .410 gauge antique Sears Roebuck shotgun.
Two days after his arrest, Hammar's parents received a midnight extortion attempt by a male caller who said he “owned” the prison, giving credence to speculation that the criminal elements control CEDES prison.
Ambassador Sarukhan said Mexican officials are just following the law.
"Regardless of what he may have declared or stated to CBP agents and then to Mexican Customs authorities, the sole introduction or possession of this type of weapon (not withstanding its intended use or year of manufacture) in Mexican territory constitutes a federal crime in Mexico and is not subject to any prosecutorial discretion," he wrote.
Hammar's attorney disagrees with the diplomat's assessment, saying the prosecutor and his team can't even agree on specifics of the rifle and it certainly does not resemble a military weapon.
"Perhaps the biggest bone of contention Hammar’s family and legal team have with Sarukhan is the ambassador’s pledge that Hammar will be held “in conditions that ensure his well-being and his rights." Already, Hammar, who suffers post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been denied an interpreter at court appearances, had his life threatened and has been chained to a steel bed," FoxNews.com reports.
Sarukhan also hinted in his letter that Hammar will be stuck in the jail until his trial is over.
"This circumstance requires that he remain under detention during the duration of his trial," Sarukhan said.
A trial date is scheduled for Jan. 17, meaning he will spend Christmas in the Mexican prison.
It is unclear whether President Barack Obama or other senior administration officials have attempted to intervene on behalf of the Marine.