California Rep. Duncan Hunter is pressing U.S. officials for swifter and stronger action in the case of a Marine Corps veteran who sits in a Mexican prison charged with illegal weapons possession.
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, was arrested March 31 after he was stopped by Mexican officials with three legal firearms — an AR-15, a shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol — in his vehicle.
The ex-Marine — who served two tours in Afghanistan and had recently moved to California from Florida — maintains his innocence and says that he intended to meet friends north of the border when he accidentally drove into Mexico.
Hunter, a Republican who is a veteran himself, sent three letters Monday — two to U.S. officials and one to a Mexican governor.
“I am aware that the Department of Defense provides significant support to the Mexican military, including training, intelligence cooperation and equipment transfers,” reads a letter sent from Hunter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
“In light of the Mexican Government’s incarceration of Andrew, I urge you to immediately consider suspending training and equipment assistance to Mexico until Andrew’s case is resolved.”
The Department of Defense declined to comment to The Daily Caller but said Hagel would be responding to Hunter.
Hunter sent another letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
Earlier this year two Mexican soldiers entered the U.S. through Arizona and drew their weapons on two U.S. Border Patrol agents, Hunter pointed out in the letter. After the situation deescalated, the soldiers were allowed to return to Mexico.
“How many unauthorized incursions by Mexican military and law enforcement authorities have occurred over the last decade?” Hunter asked Johnson in the letter.
“How many of those individuals were armed? How many of those incidents resulted in a standoff or armed confrontation with U.S. authorities, and were any of those individuals detained?”
In a third letter, Hunter beseeched Francisco Arturo Vega de la Madrid, the governor of Baja California, to pardon Tahmooressi. “I urge you to exercise your authority to pardon Andrew and allow him to return home to his family immediately.”
Earlier this month, Hunter sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking the State Department “utilize the full extent of its resources to guarantee his immediate safety and protection.”
Tahmooressi’s next hearing is scheduled for May 28.
Tahmooressi, who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2012, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Since his arrest, he has attempted to escape prison and also suffered self-inflicted injuries after stabbing himself in the neck with a broken light bulb.
If convicted, Tahmooressi’s attorneys — who are from Mexico — have said he would face between six and 21 years in prison.
Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, has said she is concerned for her son’s safety.
“The first few days when he was in the penitentiary he was not segregated and he’s a U.S. Marine currently under contract,” she told The Blaze. “He was placed in general population. His life was threatened and I really didn’t think after speaking with him that night that he would survive.”
“If they have him in solitary confinement, then he’s fine,” Hunter told Fox News earlier this month.
“If he’s not in solitary confinement, his life is in danger. I mean, it’s Mexico. I mean, there’s more murders in Mexico than we’ve had deaths in Afghanistan since we’ve been there in 2001 in one year.”