Mex­ico frees Marine veteran who tried to bring in shot­gun

Florida man back in U.S. af­ter spend­ing months in a jail.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Curt An­der­son

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.

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