Gabriel García Rincón and Andrew Tahmooressi
  • Gabriel García Rincón and Andrew Tahmooressi
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A former U.S. Marine jailed in Tijuana for bringing weapons into Mexico is getting little sympathy from a top-ranking Baja California military official despite an outpouring of support north of the border.

Twenty-five-year-old Andrew Tahmooressi, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, was jailed at the international border on April 1 after driving into Mexico with three weapons inside his pickup truck. Tahmooressi says he entered Mexico by mistake after accidentally missing the last exit off Interstate 5 into the U.S.

Since then, two San Diego congressmen from both sides of the aisle (Duncan Hunter and Scott Peters) have written to top officials in the Obama administration asking them to intervene on the Marine veteran’s behalf.

There have also been scattered rallies in support of Tahmooressi across the country, including a small May 5 protest outside the Mexican Consulate in San Diego.

A petition to the White House is circulating on the internet on the vet’s behalf; supporters hope to gather 100,000 signatures, the threshold for requiring an official response from the president.

But Gen. Gabriel García Rincón, commander of Mexico’s Second Military Zone, which includes Tijuana, has turned a deaf ear to the chorus of support.

In a May 2 interview published in the Tijuana daily El Mexicano, García said Tahmooressi’s status as a veteran is irrelevant to the charges he faces. Entering Mexico with firearms is a crime, he said, and Tahmooressi is subject to Mexican law.

“He entered [Mexico] as an American citizen and must be subject to the laws of our country, without regard to any occupation he may have had,” said García. “Everyone must be subject to our laws without regard to who they are or where they’re from.”

“He probably didn’t mean to, but in the final analysis he broke the law and he must pay the consequences,” said García. “I don’t know the circumstances he has given, but he did bring the weapons [into Mexico].”

Tahmooressi is being held without bail at Tijuana’s La Mesa prison and is scheduled for a May 28 hearing. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to 21 years.

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Comments

Visduh May 8, 2014 @ 7:54 p.m.

There are a few things that need to be noted here. This general isn't going to decide the fate of our veteran. Some judge will. That judge will undoubtedly be subject to political and financial pressures, and will eventually rule properly, i.e. that the offense was inadvertent and thus not subject to further punishment. There have been a number of such cases in recent years, and after the Mexicans extract their pound of flesh in time from the hapless offender, have released him, and the event was over. This one will be no different, trust me.

But as to whether one can make any sort of parallel between a general in the Mexican army and some combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I have doubt. The last time the Mexican army went to war was in WWII, and that was a minimal effort. Since then I cannot think of a single time that that army saw any war. Ooh, well, there was 1968 in Mexico City, and then Chiapas, and most recently the war on the drug cartels. Those bits of warfare involved making war on their own countrymen/women. I guess that's different. Actually it IS very different.

Does this dude with the two stars on the front of his cap have anything in common with a recent combat veteran? Not a bit! In his lifetime, that army has done little in the way of warfare and what it did was on the homefront. And then there's the old not-so-funny joke in regard to the massive number of generals in the small Mexican army. They were, and likely still are, a dime a dozen.

So, don't look for some "brotherhood of arms" to make any difference. The general isn't any sort of real warrior at all, just a hack in uniform. Don't expect him to say anything different until the judge rules otherwise.

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dwbat May 13, 2014 @ 2:21 a.m.

The general's hat looks like something he bought on craigslist.com.

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Visduh May 13, 2014 @ 10:22 p.m.

Actually it is the uniform of a comic-opera army. But that army is the Mexican army.

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jnojr May 9, 2014 @ 8:04 a.m.

How would we feel if a Mexican soldier came into the US and we found things we determined to be illegal in his car? Would we quickly cave in to Mexican pressure to let him go home, he just made a mistake? Or would we toss him into prison?

I do feel badly for Mr. Tahmooressi He made a mistake. But what he did is a VERY serious crime in Mexico. The Mexicans are absolutely nuts about guns. Americans get in trouble for having a single round of ammo. Heck, people wind up in trouble trying to legally carry guns into Mexico for hunting trips! This isn't a big surprise.

And I have to wonder how many people who are upset about this are also in favor of very harsh gun laws, or who actually pay attention to what happens when "only the military and police have guns".

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Visduh May 9, 2014 @ 2:01 p.m.

I'd guess if some Mexican soldier tried to bring something into the US like a gun, and admitted he had it at inspection, the action would have been to turn him around and tell him to go home. At worst his vehicle and the contraband would be seized, and he'd have been deported within hours. Oh, it might be worth remembering that Tahmooressi is no longer an active duty member of the Corps. He's a veteran, but a civilian.

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Ken May 9, 2014 @ 11:06 p.m.

Point in fact, if a Mexican announced at the border that he was there in error, he would be turned around and returned to Mexico. Why should Tahmooressi not be afforded the same courtesy? The characterization that he "came into..." Mexico is wrong. Once you are in those entry lanes at the border, there is no return. "Quickly cave in"? He has been imprisoned for over 30 days without a hearing... the first hearing isn't until almost 2 months after his arrest. A sentence for being found guilty of this "crime" shouldn't even be 2 months!

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Visduh May 10, 2014 @ 7:51 a.m.

jno, you do make a good point about gun laws that prohibit the citizenry from being armed. For all those laws in Mexico, the banditos and drug runners are very well-armed. An ordinary Mexican citizen then is totally at the mercy of the cops, the army, and the criminals.

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David Dodd May 10, 2014 @ 10:41 p.m.

Well, first of all, they moved him out of Tijuana and into Tecate, and that's a bit of a bus ride for me or I would go interview him. Second, the Mexican border officials apparently have video that contradicts the Marine's story. And third, his truck contained a mattress and a ladder. Not "personal belongings" as media keeps repeating. As usual, everyone wants to scoop the story instead of getting it right, and readers often jump the gun (pun intended) with their reactions when this occurs.

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Visduh May 11, 2014 @ 8:42 p.m.

OK, refried, care to share how you know that the border officials "apparently have a video that contradicts the . . . story?" Just what story is that? Oh, a mattress and a ladder mean what? Sounds like he might have had all his belongings in the truck, and a young guy would likely have a mattress upon which to sleep. Is a ladder a lethal weapon? Or a device to use when changing light bulbs and painting?

Refried, maybe you need to take a look and make sure you have it right.

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Bvavsvavev May 10, 2014 @ 10:58 p.m.

I'm sure El General also feels the same about the Cartels that violate gun laws in Mexico, and that they should also be held to the same standard as our Marine!

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