Freed Marine: I Was Threatened with Beheading in Mexican Prison

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 09:42 PM

By Todd Beamon

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A U.S. Marine  freed from prison in Mexico said that he was threatened with beheading within days after being arrested on false gun charges.

“They threw every threat in the book at me,” Jon Hammar told McClatchy on Thursday, in his first public comments since being released from the Mexican prison shortly before Christmas.

He said “full-blown” mobsters ran the prison, not the guards. “I knew not to go around picking fights with anybody,” he said.

Hammar’s captors had demanded money from his relatives. “They’d cut my head off, they told my family,” he told McClatchy.

When Hammar’s parents complained to the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, the threats finally stopped — and he was moved out of the general prison population to a loosely guarded cage, where his ankle was chained to a bedpost.

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Meals also came sporadically. “You eat when someone gives you food,” he said.

Hammar, who served four years in Afghanistan and Iraq and another four years in the Reserves, was arrested in August. He was stopped while heading to Costa Rica for a surfing trip to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mexican authorities charged him with crossing into the country with his great-grandfather’s antique gun, despite obtaining registration papers for the weapon.

“I went to two different border crossings and asked a dozen different people — and at the end of the day, I got a smile on their face, you know, here’s the paperwork. Enjoy yourself,” Hammar told McClatchy.

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He was released after fellow Marines and members of Congress attacked the Mexican government and demanded his release.

“Jail is bad no matter where you are,” Hammar told McClatchy, “and when you add the variables of Mexico and what is going on down there, it just gets worse every corner you turn.”

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