When the mother of a military veteran arrested and detained in a dangerous foreign jail called her congresswoman’s office two weeks ago asking for help, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said she had a hard time believing former Marine Lance Cpl. Jon Hammar was in prison for carrying a six-decade-old shotgun into Mexico.
“We said, ‘Surely she must be exaggerating,’ ” recalled Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican.
She wasn’t. Olivia Hammar’s son had been in a state prison in Matamoros, along the Mexican border, for nearly four months.
His parents, who live in Palmetto Bay, tried to resolve the matter quietly, hiring attorneys in Mexico and dealing with the U.S. consulate there. But the effort went nowhere.
Now the family has gone public — so public that even Hammar’s jailors have seen the case in the news.
“What’s going on?” Hammar asked in a late-night phone call Wednesday, according to his parents. “The guards are going crazy down here.”
The story of how Hammar, a 27-year-old who returned from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with post-traumatic stress disorder and hoped to find peace surfing in Central America, wound up chained to a bed in Mexican prison drew widespread attention after McClatchy, The Miami Herald’s parent company, published a report about the case last week.