December 12th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Ex-U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico, Florida parents plead for his release

Jon Hammar dreamed of escaping to Costa Rica. As a U.S. Marine he served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned home to battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. After getting treatment, he was ready to start his life over.

Costa Rica was where Hammar, 27, an avid surfer, wanted to find some calm, riding the waves and relaxing. He left with a friend, another former Marine, but their drive from Florida to Costa Rica didn’t go as planned and now he’s facing another battle. The U.S. veteran is behind bars in Mexico, facing gun charges and his family is speaking out tonight on 360, pleading for his release.

Hammer’s parents, Jon Sr. and Olivia, say the trouble centers around the decades-old Sears and Roebuck shotgun he brought along on the trip. It was Hammer’s great grandfather’s gun.

His parents say he was going to go hunting with it and he had the right paperwork to declare it when he crossed the border into Mexico. But Mexican authorities see it differently. Hammer’s been locked up in Mexico since August 18, all because of the length of the barrel on his antique gun.

Hammar’s family says he’s being held in a prison believed to be controlled by mexican drug cartel members. They say they’ve received threatening phone calls from people in the prison trying to extort money from them. Several U.S. lawmakers are pushing for his release, including Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who you’ll hear from tonight.

Watch the video for a preview of Anderson’s interview with Hammar’s parents and see more at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

Post by:
Filed under: Mexico • Veterans
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Jim

    So hilarious. When are the ignorant citizens in America going to wake up to the fleece being pulled over their eyes? The Mexican government isn't trying to stop the "drug war", because they profit from it. The American government isn't trying to stop the "drug war" because they too profit from it (along with the bankers).

    And yet the people just keep buying into this big lame story about the big bad drug lords. A normal functioning community would arm itself against an invading force. But no, not in Mexico. The government keeps the people disarmed and dumbed down so they can't in any way fight back. This keep the profits flowing to key government officials and the circle goes around and around.

    "It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled". – Mark Twain.

    December 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  2. frank p

    everyone should follow the rules of the country they are in. mexico has clear signs in their borders saying that weapons and ammo are illegal to carry or transport. would you feel sorry for a mexican arrested in the u.s. for driving without a license?

    December 13, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  3. W. Mitchell

    I live in Mexico and as far as I know it is illegal for anyone to bring a firearm across the border (... and I've never heard of a permit to allow this). Even Mexican citizens are wary of owning firearms in their own homes.

    December 13, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  4. Mark

    Please. This is highly unfortunate for someone who has clearly served his country well. But ... carrying any form of gun across a border in this day and age is risky to say the least?

    December 13, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  5. Harry

    How do you suppose the narcos got ahold of his parents phone number? DON'T GO TO MEXICO, people.

    December 13, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  6. Harry

    Pay the judge the $20,000 he/she wants and move on. The Mexicans don't want to keep him in jail; they just want money. There's a big sign on the freeway just before you enter Mexico: "ILLEGAL TO BRING GUNS AND AMMUNITION INTO MEXICO". I don't care what kind of paperwork the guy had. DON'T TAKE GUNS DOWN TO MEXICO!!
    A buddy of mine got shook down after a Mexican soldier "found" an empty cartridge case in his car after being stopped at one of their many checkpoints. That is the type of people that you are dealing with when you go down there.

    December 13, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  7. Vince van Rella

    LE the only thing one can is not belive you can trust third world countries.
    Terrible story, but taking a gun and driving thru Mex just sounds crazy and wreckless.

    December 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  8. Molly

    LE, there's more that want to help every day ! The story just came out last week and the FB page is busy too. What Iv'e been doing is just keeping it out there and e-mailing and phone calling my Senators and Reps. Thank you Anderson Cooper for helping Jon !!

    December 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  9. Joe Johnson

    Our hearts go out to the Hammar family with prayers that their son will be returned soon. The is a lesson to be learned here. Traveling with firearms of any kind, especially across an international boarder, is highly risky.

    December 12, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  10. LE Gorman

    This is WRONG what is our country doing to protect US citizens safety? I have a rifle very similar to the one he had in his possession it is nothing like an AK47 nor automatic. I would like to know how I could help with his release. How many of you want to help?

    December 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Mike Sandidge

      Hi L.E.:

      I just got done registering my outrage over this with my senators here in ca. .... Senators Boxer and Feinstein . I am going to call my local paper here in Huntington Beach ca. to see if they can run the story. Let me know via public message what you think we as citizens can demand to be done. The Anderson Cooper show running this story will help a lot. As a surfer and a Vietnam era veteran I am incensed that the less than exemplary law enforcement in Mexico has allowed this to occur. We cut aid now and more if this is not resolved real fast.

      Mahalo Plenty for your Patriotism and sense of justice,

      Mike Sandidge

      December 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  11. debbie

    America needs to get this guy out of there. Mexico is horrible, they play games with the Americans and hold them in jail and steal all your belongings. Someone needs to get this guy out of there. Crazy drug cartels, corruption.

    December 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm |