06/12/14 (written by dpera) — A controversial U.S.-Mexican news item of late has been the arrest and detention of former U.S. Marine Andrew Paul Tahmooressi (25). On April 1, Sergeant Tahmooressi was arrested in Tijuana after crossing through the Tijuana-San Ysidro port of entry just south of San Diego with various weapons and dozens of rounds of ammunition in his possession. Tahmooressi was carrying weapons that are illegal in Mexico according to Mexico’s Federal Law of Firearms and Explosive Weapons (Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos). Two days after his arrest, Tahmooressi was sent to the notorious La Mesa prison outside of Tijuana, and was then relocated on May 8 to the El Hongo Prison outside of Tecate, Baja California.
Tahmooressi has alleged that he was denied due process, tortured, and mistreated in the La Mesa prison. He also stated that this was his first time crossing the border into Mexico, and that because he had just relocated to San Diego, he was confused by the nighttime driving conditions and lack of signs that told him he was about to cross the border. He alleges that he never intended to go to Mexico. However, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) and Mexican authorities have countered Tahmooressi’s allegations, calling them “baseless” and noting that Tahmooressi had actually crossed the border into Mexico three times before through the same port. The PGR added that, as in the United States, “unfamiliarity with the law, error, or misunderstandings about the consequences of breaking the law do not exempt him from responsibility.”
From the start, the PGR has guaranteed that due process, respect for fundamental rights, and consular access for Tahmooressi have been upheld. Police have commented that from the moment of his arrest, the ex-Marine has been violent and attempted to escape twice. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Tahmooressi has alleged that he had to be aggressive in order to protect himself from mistreatment and torture. Meanwhile, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) has not opened an investigation into the case, while politicians from the U.S. Congress and White House, including Secretary of State John Kerry, continue to ask Mexican officials for his release. For the time being, however, Sgt. Tahmooressi awaits trial in Mexico.