Tags: marine | chain | mexico | jail

'Clerical Error' Leaves U.S. Marine Vet Stranded in Mexico Jail

Wednesday, 19 Dec 2012 12:24 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Former Marine combat veteran Jon Hammar, 27, remains jailed following his August arrest by Mexican police on a gun charge that his mother describes as a "clerical error."

A photo on Monday showed Hammar shirtless, barefoot, unshaven, and chained to his prison bed. The image was released by his mother, magazine publisher Olivia Hammar, who said she received it via email from an anonymous sender.

Hammer was on his way to a hunting and surfing trip in Costa Rica when he was arrested after declaring his grandfather's antique shotgun with Mexican authorities. He had previously registered the gun with U.S. Customs before crossing the border into Mexican.

"Johnny made an administrative mistake. He should have registered the gun in an embassy," Olivia Hammar said in an interview with Fox News. "He's been detained for months because of a clerical error."

"It's devastating. It's incomprehensible," she said. "My son, a Marine who served two tours of duty, can get a felony and not be able to vote in this country again."

Though Mexico is awash with every imaginable kind of weapon in the possession of hordes of gun-toting drug smugglers, the nation claims to have strict gun laws prohibiting most people from owning or acquiring guns.

On Monday, the Hammar family received a letter from Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, professing helplessness.

"The fact that he declared to Mexican Customs that he was in possession of the weapon does not preclude arrest and prosecution," wrote Sarukhan. "The sole introduction or possession of this type of weapon (not withstanding its intended use or year of manufacture) constitutes a federal crime in Mexico and is not subject to any prosecutorial discretion."

The U.S. State Department has thus far been unable or unwilling to assist in the matter.

"Mexico has stringent weapons laws and enforces them strictly. U.S. citizens are arrested each year under similar circumstances. U.S. embassy staff visit, provide a list of attorneys and monitor the progress of their case. Jon's case is proceeding through the Mexican justice system," said spokesman John Long.

Hammar, who will remain in detention for the duration of his trial, faces a felony charge and possibly up to 12 years in prison. After being put in general population in one of Mexico's most dangerous prisons, Hammar has since been relocated to a more solitary area of the prison.

That was after members of the Mexican gang Los Zetas threatened him in an attempt to extort money from his family.

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