Gabriel García Rincón and Andrew Tahmooressi
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.