Mexico frees Marine veteran who tried to bring in shotgun
Florida man back in U.S. after spending months in a jail.
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-yearold Hammar across the border at Brownsville, Texas.
“He’s out. Going home,” wrote Eddie Varon Levy in a tweet.
U.S. Rep. Ileana RosLehtinen, 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.”
She thanked those “who have shown unwavering support for Jon and his family in their time of need, and who have been so instrumental in making was cleared when Mexican officials decided not to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Varon Levy said he was not sure of Hammar’s immediate plans once he returns to the U.S. “Probably some down time,” he said.
Civilian gun ownership is illegal under Mexican law unless the owner purchases the weapon from a special shop run by the country’s Department of Defense.
“The Department of State warns all U.S. citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico,” the U.S. Embassy in Mexico writes on its website. “Entering Mexico with a firearm, certain types of knives, or even a single round of ammunition is illegal, even if the weapon or ammunition is taken into Mexico unintentionally.”
Mexican law also bans shotguns with barrels of less than 25 inches. The family said Hammar’s shotgun has a barrel of 24 inches.
Tourists are allowed to bring guns for hunting on rare occasions, but Mexican officials said all visitors must receive a special permit before entering the country. Mexican customs agents do not issue gun permits. As a result, anyone crossing the border with a firearm or ammunition without a previously issued government permit is in instant violation of Mexican law, which stipulates long jail terms for breaking weapons laws.