Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen Sends Letter to President Peña Nieto of Mexico Asking for Immediate Release of United States Marine Jon Hammar

Dec 18, 2012 Issues: Defense Abroad, Foreign Affairs, Veterans

Washington, D.C.  – Last night Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto regarding the well-being of United States Marine veteran, Jon Hammar.

After receiving a letter from the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, and consulting with the Hammar family, Ros-Lehtinen addressed a letter to President Peña Nieto citing the family’s concerns.

Said Ros-Lehtinen: “There are differences in the facts between what Ambassador Sarukhan stated to me in his letter and what I have heard about this tragic situation. The Hammars are in consultation with their lawyer, and I plan to continue to coordinate efforts with the family to get all matters resolved.

Right now, in addition to assuring Jon's immediate return, my main focus is Jon's health and well-being. I want to make sure that Jon is being treated humanely, and has proper access to water, food, and, most importantly, access to the medical attention someone who suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder requires. I have reiterated these concerns in a letter to President Peña Nieto, and I trust he will do the right thing and see to it that this matter is resolved as quickly as possible."

You can find the full text of the letter below:

December 17, 2012

Dear Mr. President:

I am gravely concerned over the well-being of a United States citizen and United States Marine, Lance Corporal Jon M. Hammar, who is imprisoned in Centro de Ejecución de Sanciones (CEDES) de Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico since his August 13, 2012 arrest.

Jon and a friend, who were both diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarked upon a surfing trip from Florida to Costa Rica to help them cope with the stress of PTSD. Along with his surf boards, Jon brought with him one of his most prized possessions – his great-grandfather’s old-fashioned Sears & Roebuck .410 bore shotgun. He took all precautions he believed necessary to abide by all laws and regulations regarding transporting his shotgun across the border, including asking the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents for the proper procedures. The CBP agents informed him that he could take his shotgun into Mexico as long as he registered it with the Mexican authorities.

Jon followed CBP’s instructions but, upon entering Mexico, he was arrested immediately and taken to CEDES de Matamoros, a facility that is allegedly controlled by the Zetas drug cartel. While there, he was initially placed in the general population where he was beaten by the other inmates. These inmates would routinely make threatening phone calls to Jon’s parents in an effort to extort money from them. It is my understanding from both our State Department and Ambassador Sarukhan that Jon was removed from general population for his safety following a request from our Consular officers in Mexico. However, Jon was then taken to an anteroom where he was chained to his bed to ensure he did not try to escape.

On behalf of his family, I am requesting that you ensure that Jon is being treated humanely, with proper access to water and food and most importantly, has access to the medical assistance that he desperately needs. This is a very dangerous situation, for someone who suffers from PTSD, and I want to reiterate the importance of Jon being given access to the proper medical professionals and treatment.

Jon is an American hero and my hope is that with your assistance, we could resolve this matter as quickly as possible, within all applicable rules and regulations, so that Jon can return home to be with his family before Christmas.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of Congress