TIJUANA.- Every day the controversy surrounding Andrew Tahmooressi, the marine veteran who “accidentally” crossed into Mexico in early April, grows. The individual was detained by Mexican Customs officials for weapons possession and later incarcerated at the La Mesa penitentiary. Why hasn’t he obtained freedom?
The situation is very complicated. His mother has turned to various sources requesting help — including Scott Peters, Duncan Hunter, and an online petition for Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama to intervene in this case so that Andrew Tahmooressi can be released.
The petition has received over 12000 signatures, and once it reaches 100,000 signatures the White House is obligated to respond. On May 28 Andrew Tahmooressi’s sentence will be decided and he could face 6 to 21 years in prison, without the right to bail. You can read more about the case here at the Facebook page that has been set up for the cause.
The former U.S. marine faces charges for three federal crimes: possession of two firearms, possession of ammunition and non-permitted guns. Of the three weapons in his vehicle, two are considered military–grade in Mexico. Although he insists that this has all been a mistake, Mexican authorities indicate that he will have to go through national judicial processes, with no special privileges as a foreigner. This has been reinforced by some U.S. authorities, who add that U.S citizens constantly enter Mexico bearing weapons without permits. In Mexico it is illegal to carry weapons without the proper permits and it is illegal to cross the border with weapons in your possession.
The average citizen has many questions about Andrew Tahmooressi. People who cross the Tijuana/San Ysidro border frequently seem to think that the signs are sufficient and fairly obvious, and are surprised that someone could have made it into the country without realizing where they were going.
It also doesn’t help that there have been reports of U.S. citizens and, in some cases, military personnel involved in smuggling weapons into Mexico, which are sold to serve organized crime.
Another aspect of this that brings up several questions is that Tahmooressi suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, caused by two deployments to Afghanistan. People are wondering if psychological disorders and weapons should be combined, and some think that it sounds like an accident waiting to happen.
Tahmooressi had been diagnosed with PTSD at the La Jolla Veterans Hospital; he had arrived in California, from Florida, last March, and claims that he was driving to San Ysidro to meet his friends at a restaurant when he missed an exit on the I-5 and ended up in Mexico.
On this side of the border there is political emphasis that he be released and his charges lifted, when supposing he were in the opposite situation we wonder if that would be the case.
Along the border and its desert regions, there have been cases of Mexican military accidentally crossing the border while pursuing criminals, and U.S. authorities are not often very understanding.
Tahmooressi’s case has caught the attention of international press, and in the past few days it has been all across the media, but the most interesting part is often not the article, rather the comments section.
The San Diego Union Tribune managed to interview Tahmooressi for an article written by Sandra Dibble; the article notes that the former marine is in good condition, which he confirmed during the interview. It also mentioned that the subject had attempted to escape from prison, and had cut his neck with a piece of a light bulb.
He has been under watch in the prison for his own safety and his condition is again stable.