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- 12-13-2012, 03:45 PM #1
Extortion call, somber visit bring nightmare home for parents of Marine jailed in Mex
Extortion call, somber visit bring nightmare home for parents of Marine jailed in Mexico
"They're serious, Dad," Jon Hammar Sr. heard his son say. "I'll pay you back; they are going to kill me."
Published December 13, 2012
The father of a U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico after being caught with his grandfather's antique shotgun heard the fear in his son's voice and felt helpless.
The phone call came at midnight from Mexico's notorious CEDES prison, where Jon Hammar Jr. has been held since August. The caller demanded $1,800, then put Hammar on to drive the point home.
"They're serious, Dad," Jon Hammar Sr. heard his son say. "I'll pay you back; they are going to kill me."
"They're serious, Dad. I'll pay you back; they are going to kill me."
- Jon Hammar, Jr., speaking by phone from a Mexican jail
Hammar, who faced down Iraqi insurgents in the final push on Fallujah in 2004, has been in dangerous situations before. But his treatment in the infamous prison, where Mexico's murderous Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels hold sway, has his family fearing for the 27-year-old's life -- and begging the Obama administration for help. Hammar was arrested in the Mexican border city of Matamoros on Aug. 13, after declaring to a Mexican customs agent that he possessed an antique shotgun he was carrying through the country on his way to Costa Rica, where he and a pal planned to surf and forget the horrors of war that plagued Hammar long after his honorable discharge in 2007.
Even though a U.S. border agent in Brownsville, Texas, had assured Hammar the gun was legal as long as he declared it to Mexican authorities, he was nabbed just across the border, and charged with an aggravated felony punishable up to 15 years in prison. While in prison, Hammar has been repeatedly threatened and, according to reports, left chained for days to a steel bed. But it was the call, just two days after their son's arrest, that continues to haunt Hammar's parents. They believe their son's service to his country -- memorialized forever by a "USMC" tattoo on his arm, made him a target behind bars.
"The reason why he got processed so fast was because he has a USMC tattoo," Jon Hammar Sr., 48, told FoxNews.com. "You can't mistake who these guys are."
It was Hammar's mother, Olivia, who took the unnerving call at their Palmetto Bay, Fla., home. As her face turned ashen at the caller's demand, Jon Hammar Sr. grabbed the phone and heard a voice say, "This prison is our house!"
It wasn't an idle boast. The prison was the scene of the escape of 151 inmates in December 2010 and 59 in July 2011, and dozens of guards were later charged with helping with the breakout. And the prison has an unparalleled reputation for violence: In 2005, two American brothers jailed on homicide charges were found stabbed to death in their cells. The inmate ranks are swollen with members of the Mexican mafia and various cartels, shootouts and escapes are common and guards have confiscated guns and even an AK-47s from cells over the years.
Hammar could tell his son was under duress. He was fully prepared to pay the ransom, but the caller said he would call back in the morning with a Western Union account number. Hammar found that to be strange.
"You're about to kill my son and you don't even have an account number and you'll call me back?" Hammar said.
Hammar also wondered how the caller got his home number and was able to place the nighttime call. He got hold of a U.S. Consulate official who promised to convey the threat to high-ranking Mexican military officials in the region. No call came from the prison in the morning.
A shaken Hammar knew that he had to get to his son as soon as possible. After negotiating the procedural maze of obtaining consulate approval to go to the prison, Hammar and his son's attorney, Eddie Varon-Levy, made their way to Tamaulipas, the northeastern state where the prison is located just 15 miles from Brownsville, Texas. They were surprised to find that when they arrived, consular officials could not obtain clearance to accompany them behind the walls of the lockup. The men went inside alone.
On the surface, CEDES officials appeared to go out of their way to make "everything look good," Hammar recalled. His son, who was not expecting the visit, was shocked and worried when he saw them.
"He wasn't concerned about his safety, but ours," Hammar said. "He was more angry that we put ourselves at risk for coming to the prison."
His son looked worn out and thin, Hammar recalled. What concerned him most was how "odd" the side of his mouth looked and his son's reluctance to show his father his body.
"He was wearing his own clothes and when I went to lift his shirt up he knocked my hand away," Hammar said. "He wouldn't take his shirt off because he was concerned about repercussions."
There are numerous reports and allegations of inmate abuse by other inmates and prison officials in Mexico, some of which have resulted in death.
Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Washington, D.C., told FoxNews.com Hammar's safety is guaranteed by the Mexican government.
"Mr. Hammar is currently detained in Tamaulipas and, as any other detainee facing criminal charges, he has the right to defense counsel and a fair trial," Alday said. "In addition, his life and integrity are protected by national and international laws."
Alday said Mexican authorities have ensured Hammar's right to help from U.S. diplomatic officials, and said he has been in contact with U.S. Consular officers in Mexico who have regularly visited him.
A spokesman for the State Department said officials have visited Hammar three times, spoken with him by phone and contacted prison officials to stop them from chaining him to the bed.
"The safety and well-being of U.S. citizens is something we take very seriously," said Peter Velasco.
But his father's confidence in the U.S. State Department has waned as his son has languished in prison.
"We're grateful that they saved his life and are being another set of eyes, but they haven't been much help getting him released," Hammar said.
Their son's PTSD also concerns the Hammars. After repeat combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wars took an emotional toll on Hammar.
His father said that Jon had received treatment through the Veterans Administration, but had a "very bad" reaction to the medication he was given and was reliant on therapy to help him cope.
"He has not been given any care in prison and, so far, we haven't seen any flare-ups," Hammar said. "We are still concerned."
Last edited by HAPPY2BME; 12-13-2012 at 03:48 PM.U.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!
- 12-15-2012, 07:09 AM #2
Marine Held in Mexican Prison, State Department Does Nothing
News Editor, Townhall
14 Dec, 2012
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.
More from Hannity last night:
Bring Hammar home | Fox News Video
source: Marine Held in Mexican Prison, State Department Does Nothing - Katie PavlichU.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!
- 12-15-2012, 10:59 AM #3
Bill Nelson floor speech.
Senator Speaks Out About U S Marine Chained To Bed In A Mexican Jail
- 12-15-2012, 11:04 AM #4
Jon has suffered enough let's bring him home to his family where he rightly
Cut off all money to Mexico and dump all of their criminals out of our prison system at their border. JMO
- 12-15-2012, 11:17 AM #5
December 14, 2012
Mexico insulting every single American citizen
Talking Points 12/14
Watch this video - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen say the prison is being run by the Drug lords and points out that every President of Mexico and complains about the treatment of their illegals in The US Ros-Lehtinen says - Hogwash. There is an annoying ad at the beginning.
Fox News - Breaking News Updates | Latest News Headlines | Photos & News Videos
- 12-15-2012, 12:58 PM #6
- 12-16-2012, 11:41 AM #7
Mexico making example out of Marine with trumped up charge, says lawyer
Published December 14, 2012
Jon Hammar Jr. has been held in Mexico's notorious CEDES prison since August.
A Marine languishing in a Mexican prison on what his supporters call a trumped up gun charge was made an example by an overzealous prosecutor in a case that begged for discretion, his lawyer said.
Jon Hammar Jr., who was caught just inside Mexico's border with his grandfather's antique, Sears & Roebuck shotgun while on the way to Costa Rica with a pal, should have been scolded and sent on his way minus the family heirloom, said Eddie Varon-Levy. Instead, Hammar has spent the last four months in one of Mexico's most dangerous prisons. Varon-Levy blamed the outgoing administration of President Felipe Calderon and his attorney general, Marisela Morales, who he said took their zero tolerance approach too far.
"The administration of Felipe Calderon and Attorney General Marisela Morales has had the attitude that they have to make examples of people that laws have to be enforced," said Eddie Varon-Levy, 52.
Varon-Levy, who is an international law attorney with offices in Mexico City and Los Angeles, Calif., said the customs agent who nabbed Hammar and the prosecutor who charged him could have used discretion - and common sense - instead of filing the federal weapon charge charge against Hammar.
"They could have just taken the gun and not filed any charge," he said. "This case should not even be tried."
Morales has been lauded for her efforts in the midst of Mexico's violent drug war by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Hammar, a Marine who fought in Iraq during the siege of Fallujah, was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border between Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico Aug. 13, after he thought he legally declared a shotgun an American border agent allegedly gave him permission to take into Mexico.
"With the old administration you were guilty until proven innocent or ran out of money," Varon-Levy said, "but with the new administration I am confident things will change favorably for my client."
Enrique Pena Nieto took office as Calderon's successor as Mexican president Dec. 1. The election of Pena ousted the PAN party's short reign in Mexico and marked a return to the PRI party which ruled Mexico for 75 years. Varon-Levy said he hopes the new administration will use reason in enforcing the law. In Hammar's case, he was jailed on a technicality that still hasn't been fully explained. There is a conflict in how the officials are measuring Hammar Jr.'s rifle for its legality as well as its caliber and whether it is military grade. When Hammar declared the shotgun to Mexican customs agents, he was arrested because rather than the legally permissible 25-inch barrel, his was 24 inches. Even that is not clear.
"The prosecutor and investigator can't even agree on the length," he said.
Since he was initially detained, Mexican officials have not exactly followed such slavish devotion to the letter of the law, said Varon-Levy. The attorney has filed a motion alleging Hammar's constitutional rights under Mexican law were violated when he was not provided an interpreter at the time of his arrest. Prior to filing the charges with the PGR, Mexico's attorney generals office, the border agent was supposed to explain the charges through an interpreter, which never happened, according to Hammar's father, Jon Hammar Sr.
"Jon signed off on the charges anyway because they told him to do what they say and he'll get out of jail faster," Hammar said.
Prosecutors attempted to try his son on a felony weapons charge without his attorney or the agent who arrested him present in the Matamoros federal courtroom Nov. 23, the distraught father said. Varon-Levy and the Hammars made arrangements to be present, but were then told the proceeding was postponed until January. Then, on the original date and with no one from his team present, Hammar was brought from the prison by police and ordered to plead guilty to the charges that hold a sentence of between 5-15 years, Varon-Levy said.
"They claimed it was an administrative snafu," Hammar Sr. said. "This is the reason why we finally went public about Jon's arrest. Not only have we lost faith in the Mexican judicial system, we fear for our son's safety."
Ricardo Alday , spokesman, Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C., defended prosecutors' actions in the case.
"The law is very clear, if you enter Mexican territory with a weapon restricted for the exclusive use of the Army, you incur a federal crime, whether you declare it or not," Alday said.
But Hammar's family and legal team say they are trying to battle the charges even as they fight for his life. On the second night he was imprisoned in the notorious CEDES prison in Matamoros, Hammar Sr. received a midnight call from an unknown man threatening his son's life unless he paid $1,800. And Hammar, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan remains in the Mexican prison, has also been chained to a bed in a storage-like closet to separate him for his own safety from the general population which includes members of the violent Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.
His parents, who live in Palmetto Bay, Fla., say they've gotten little help from the U.S. State Department. They said they appreciate the help the U.S. Consulate provided in getting the message across to Mexican officials to protect their son from other inmates, but said other than that, there doesn't seem much the U.S. government can do.
"According to the consulate they can't get involved in the legal matters of a foreign country but they could provide a list of attorneys which essentially came out of a phone book," Hammar Sr. said. "They told us they couldn't give us any legal advice.
"It makes me feel helpless."
Read more: Mexico making example out of Marine with trumped up charge, says lawyer | Fox News
We need to start the deportations of Mexican criminals instead of paying millions of dollars to house and feed them. They should be sent back home and the border manned and sealed. JMO