Marine Held in Mexican Prison, State Department Does Nothing

Posted: Dec 14, 2012 8:18 AM

Jon Hammar, a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is being held in a notorious Mexican prison where Zetas gang members hold power. His crime? Declaring an antique shotgun to Mexican officials after registering the gun with U.S. Customs Agents on his way to Costa Rica. Hammar has been in a prison in Mexico for months now and this week, his parents got an extortion call demanding they wire thousands of dollars to the prison. Hammar spoke to his parents on the phone, saying he thought he was going to be killed. Hammar has been tortured during his time in the prison. He's been beaten and chained to a bed. Mexican officials have justified Hammar's arrest, saying it came in accordance with gun laws in the country, have no plans to release him and the State Department has done nothing to get Hammar released. He could face as many as 15 years in prison. More from NY Daily News:

The father of an ex-Marine jailed in Mexico after trying to declare an antique gun at the border says his son is concerned the attention his case has received could make him a target in his notorious lockup.

Jon Hammar, 27, was able to make a brief phone call Wednesday night to his father, Jon Hammar Sr., from his cell at the CEDES prison in Matamoros, Mexico.

“He’s just very concerned,” Hammar told the Daily News. “There’s a lot of activity (in the prison) because we’ve gone public,” his father said.

The younger Hammar, who spent four years in Iraq and Afghanistan, is worried he might be seen as a troublemaker as his family and lawmakers put pressure on the Mexican government to drop his four-month-old case.

Calling it a Catch-22, Hammar’s father said the support of lawmakers and the public for his son’s case could be instrumental in his release. But the publicity inside the jail could make the veteran American Marine unpopular.

“Some of the guards are saying ‘why are these people on TV about you? What’s going on?’” Hammar told his father.

CEDES, where Hammar is held, is one of the most notorious prisons in Mexico. Its population includes criminals linked to Mexico’s dangerous drug cartels. They are also widely believed to influence what goes on in the facility.

Hammer was told as long as he declared his shot gun to Mexican customs authorities that carrying the gun to Costa Rica was legal. Apparently that wasn't the case however considering Mexican authorities, including Mexican President Felipe Calderon, encourage their citizens to break U.S. law on a daily basis with illegal immigration and rock throwing at U.S. Border Patrol Agents, Hammer should be released immediately.

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