Jon Hammar has been freed from a Mexican jail. The Marine vet was arrested in August as he tried to register an heirloom shotgun as he crossed from the U.S. into Mexico.
MIAMI – A Marine veteran jailed for months in Mexico after trying to carry a family heirloom shotgun across the border has been freed, officials and his lawyer said late Friday.
The attorney for Jon Hammar tweeted Friday night that his client had been released from a detention center in Matamoros, Mexico. U.S. officials had been planning to drive the 27-year-old Hammar across the border at Brownsville, Texas.
"He's out. Going home," wrote Eddie Varon Levy in a tweet.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., confirmed in a statement Friday night that Hammar had been released. She also said he was "back safely in the United States."
"These past few months have been an absolute nightmare for Jon and his family, and I am so relieved that this whole ordeal will soon be over," the congresswoman said. "I am overcome with joy knowing that Jon will be spending Christmas with his parents, family and friends."
A defense lawyer said Mexican authorities determined there was no intent to commit a crime, Nelson's office said. The senator was among a handful of elected officials who urged the State Department to help get Hammar out of Mexico. His family said he was being held in isolation after they received threats to his safety.
Hammar was heading to Costa Rica to go surfing when he crossed into Matamoros, Mexico, from Brownsville, Texas, in mid-August in a beat-up old Winnebago motor home he and a friend bought especially for the trip.
He had registered the shotgun with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on the U.S. side of the border, declaring he planned to take it with him into Mexico.
Despite being told that the shotgun, a Sears & Roebuck model that once belonged to his great-grandfather, posed no problem, Hammar was arrested as soon as he crossed into Mexico. The arrest came when he tried to register the gun with Mexican customs officials, Olivia Hammar said.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Hammar was charged with possession of a deadly weapon. And the family lawyer, Eddie Varon-Levy, had said Hammar faced up to 12 years in prison if he was found guilty.
Making matters worse, Hammar suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his grueling combat experience and the death of a fellow Marine who was killed by a sniper's bullet when the two served together in Falluja, Iraq. He had just completed treatment for PTSD at a center for veterans in California last year, before getting caught up in his misadventure in Matamoros.
His ordeal there, in one of the most violent parts of Mexico, included being shackled to a bed and receiving death threats and extortion demands from drug cartel gangsters who run the prison, known as CEDES in Matamoros, like their personal fiefdom, Hammar's parents said.
Olivia Hammar told Reuters her husband, Jon Hammar Sr., had flown down to south Texas from Miami early Sunday and planned to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in a rental car to pick up his son at or near the prison.
"He hasn't actually been released yet," she said.
"I just got an email from the (U.S.) consulate saying they're waiting for the confirmation."
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