Friday, December 14, 2012

Obama Ignores Ex-Marine Wrongly Held In Mexican Jail

(IBD) A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan is chained to a jail bed for months after trying to register a souvenir rifle with Mexican authorities, and the Obama administration does nothing to correct this injustice.

Since August, Jon Hammar, a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been held in a notorious Mexican prison effectively run by the Zetas drug cartel. His crime: declaring to Mexican authorities that he was transporting an antique shotgun after registering the gun with U.S. Customs agents on his way to a surfing trip with buddies in Costa Rica.

We can understand the silence of mainstream media and Hollywood liberals who hold candlelight vigils every time a cop-killer is sent to death row. But ignoring a Marine vet suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome jailed on his way for some R&R is astonishing.

On Aug. 23, Hammar and a friend, another ex-Marine, were on a road trip to Costa Rica where they planned to spend several weeks surfing and recovering from the psychological toll of combat. Hammar had just completed treatment for post-traumatic stress.

At the Brownsville Port of Entry, Hammar told U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents he was carrying a shotgun that once belonged to his great-grandfather. The .410-bore Sears & Roebuck model had been handed down through the generations and was for Hammer a link to his heritage.

The gun was barely suitable for shooting birds and rabbits; his wife called it a "glorified BB gun." Yet Mexican authorities insist a crime has been committed and the weapon is a serious threat, largely because the gun barrel, as they measure it, is longer than 25 inches.

Hammar registered the antique weapon in the U.S. and was told if he presented the paperwork to Mexican authorities there should be no problem as he journeyed to Costa Rica. Instead, Mexican authorities dismissed the paperwork, arrested Hammer and sent him to CEDES prison in Matamoros. His next court date is Jan. 17, and he faces up to 12 years on the gun charge.

In a country where drug gangs wield AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, high-powered .50-caliber sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other potent weaponry, the claim by Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican embassy in the U.S., that the gun is illegal and dangerous, is ridiculous.

"The possession of any weapon restricted for the use of the Army in Mexico is a federal crime, regardless of whether you declare it or not upon entering the country, and must be automatically prosecuted," Alday said. Maybe it was used in Pancho Villa's day, but if it was pointed at a Zeta, the only thing he'd die of is laughter.

"His family has described a very disturbing situation that includes their son being chained to a bed in a very small cell and receiving calls from fellow inmates threatening his life if they did not send them money," said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Hammar's local representative.

Why Mexico is doing this is open to question. Is it payback for the administration's Fast and Furious gun-running operation into Mexico? Is it going to extract concessions on immigration and open borders?

Mexico regularly intervenes in U.S. legal affairs when a Mexican national is justifiably convicted of a crime against a U.S. citizen. So why is Hillary Clinton's State Department doing absolutely nothing to free Jon Hammer from this unjustified outrage? He served his country. It's time his country returned the favor.