SAN DIEGO (AP) — A California congressman sent a letter Friday to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to secure the release of a former U.S. combat Marine jailed in Tijuana after he drove into Mexico with three legally owned guns in his vehicle last month.
Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter said in the letter that former Marine Andrew Tahmooressi had just moved to California from Florida and had all his belongings in his vehicle, including the guns, when he missed the last U.S. exit on April 1, forcing him to cross the border. Road closures because of checkpoints and construction added to the confusion, and there was no opportunity for drivers to turn around, Hunter said in the letter.
The 25-year-old Afghanistan veteran was arrested by Mexican federal authorities on weapons charges and is being held at the La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana.
"Andrew is neither a criminal nor a weapons trafficker, and his incarceration is an extraordinarily unfortunate occurrence," wrote Hunter, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War. "I am confident this situation can be resolved quickly through the continued attention and support of the U.S. State Department, but I remain concerned for Andrew's safety and well-being as a prisoner in Mexico."
State Department officials said they were aware of an arrest of a U.S. citizen in Mexico, but they do not comment on arrests of private individuals without the person's permission. Mexican officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Hunter wrote that Tahmooressi was recently treated at the prison infirmary for a knife wound to his neck, Hunter said.
There have been similar cases in the past. In 2008, an active-duty Army soldier was jailed in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, for driving into Mexico with guns, knives and ammunition. Former Army Spc. Richard R. Medina Torres also said he was lost and missed the last U.S. exit. He spent a little over a month in jail before being released.