Marine freed from Mexico tells of prison ordeal, recounts threats of beheading

Font Size:

The Marine recently released from a Mexican prison, who was arrested in the country on trumped-up gun charges, was threatened with beheading while in custody.

“They threw every threat in the book at me,” Jon Hammar told McClatchy on Thursday, in his first public comments about the matter. According to Hammar, “full-blown” mobsters ran the prison, not the guards.

“They’d cut my head off, they told my family,” Hammer said, noting that his captors demanded money from his relatives. The threats only stopped, Hammer said, when his parents complained to the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros and he was moved from the prison’s general population to a separate cage, which was chained to a bedpost.

Hammar, who served four years in Afghanistan and Iraq and another four years in the Reserves, was arrested in August, while he was on his way to Costa Rica for a surfing trip to help with his PTSD. Hammer’s alleged crime was crossing into Mexico with his great grandfather’s antique gun, even though he had obtained registration papers for the weapon.

“I went to two different border crossings and asked a dozen different people, and at the end of the day, I got a smile on their face, you know, here’s the paperwork. Enjoy yourself,” Hammar said.

Hammar was released shortly before Christmas after fellow Marines and members of Congress blasted the Mexican government and pushed for his release.

“Jail is bad no matter where you are,” Hammar told McClatchy, “and when you add the variables of Mexico and what is going on down there, it just gets worse every corner you turn.”

“There was a tattoo artist in there, and he said to me, ‘You can die in this place for nothing,’” he added.

According to McClatchy’s report, the Matamoros prison where Hammar was held is known for being in the control of the Los Zetas gang. Hammar is still recovering from a stomach virus and dehydration, which left him hospitalized upon his arrival back to the United States.

Follow Caroline on Twitter