(NY Daily News)—An ex-Marine who survived dangerous patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan is now “chained to a bed” in a notorious Mexican prison after a road trip to Costa Rica went terribly wrong, his friends and family say.
A chorus of supporters are calling on the Mexican government to release Jon Hammar, 27, who was jailed in August for carrying an antique shotgun that he believed could be legally registered in Mexico.
Hammar, of Palmetto Bay, Fla., was headed to Costa Rica for a surfing trip to try and recover from post-traumatic stress after four years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The only time Hammar is not losing his mind is when he’s on the water,” fellow Marine veteran Ian McDonough, who was arrested with Hammar during the August incident but later released by Mexican authorities, told McClatchy newspapers.
Hammar and McDonough had stocked up a used Winnebago with surfboards and camping supplies and had just crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas into Matamoros, Mexico, where they were detained.
Hammar had registered the shotgun, a Sear & Roebuck model that once belonged to his great-grandfather, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on the U.S. side of the border.
After being told by U.S. agents the shotgun posed no problem and could be reigstered in Mexico, Hammar and McDonough crossed the border, tried to declare the weapon, and found themselves separated and behind bars.
“The crux of it is the length of the barrel,” his mother, Olivia Hammar, 46, told Reuters. “There’s an old law on the books that says it can’t be under 25 inches…It’s a 2-foot barrel…It’s strictly a technicality.”
“It’s a glorified BB gun,” she said.