The only hope for a US Marine who carried loaded weapons across the border on his way to Tijuana may be diplomatic intervention, according to his supporters who want the State Department to take up the case of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi. John Kerry is in Mexico City to discuss the crisis in Venezuela with Mexico in hopes of a coordinated response in the Americas to the abuses of the Maduro regime, which gives him an opportunity to raise the Tahmooressi case with his counterparts in Mexico. Given the facts of the case, that may be Tahmooressi’s only chance of avoiding a long prison sentence:
Whether U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi spends the next two decades in a Mexican prison or is freed tomorrow for mistakenly crossing the border with loaded guns all rests with an unpredictable legal process that bears little resemblance to the American court system.
Tahmooressi, 25, of Weston, Fla., has been held in two Mexican prisons since being arrested while accidentally crossing into Mexico on March 31 with three weapons in his truck. According to Tahmooressi’s defense attorney Alejandro Osuna, of Tijuana, Mexico, his client is facing federal charges for carrying a weapon intended for exclusive use by the military, carrying a weapon not registered in Mexico and possession of ammunition.
“These are very serious charges in Mexico,” Osuna said.
Tahmooressi alleges that he made a wrong turn while leaving a San Ysidro, Calif., parking lot late on March 31 and was unable to avoid entering Mexico. Once across the border, he tried to turn around immediately. Osuna said his client fully disclosed to the customs agents he had weapons in his truck and that he did not intend to enter Mexico.
Kerry did raise the issue in Mexico, but so far there has been no change in Tahmooressi’s status:
The Obama administration broke its silence Thursday on the case of a U.S. Marine imprisoned in Mexico on gun charges, with a State Department spokeswoman confirming that Secretary of State John Kerry “raised the issue” during meetings this week in Mexico City.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki also said Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been visited 11 times by U.S. consular officials.
“Obviously this is a case we’ve been concerned about, hence we’ve raised it,” she said, when asked about Tahmooressi by Fox News.
A spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who has tried to bring national attention to the case, said this is a “good” development but “still not enough.”
“The big question is what are you going to do from here?” spokesman Joe Kasper said. “Kerry bringing it up evidently hasn’t gotten Andrew out of jail.”
The local Fox affiliate in San Diego covered the story earlier in the week. Tahmooressi’s supporters say he ended up at the border by mistake and say that a 911 call vindicates that version of the story:
The problem with this 911 as an argument for Tahmooressi’s total innocence is exactly what the 911 operator points out. The border check through which Tahmooressi passed is hardly a small outpost that one might easily miss on the highway; it’s a huge international border station, with lots of signage describing it and what one cannot take across the border, especially loaded guns. One does not just accidentally pass through its gates on the way to Tijuana. That doesn’t mean that Tahmooressi meant to cause trouble with the guns in question, but that doesn’t relieve him of responsibility for his own actions, either — especially in Mexico, where as the Fox News reporter points out, the criminal standards are a lot different than in the US.
The State Department should keep pressing to get Tahmooressi out of Mexico, of course, and hopefully Kerry will exert enough pressure and/or offer enough concessions to do so. However, that’s going to be a tough sell in Mexico. Texas executed a Mexican national a couple of years ago despite their full-court press to get him back, and of course the Obama administration infamously ran thousands of illegal weapons into Mexico without alerting the government or having any way to track where they went. Don’t expect the Mexican national government to have much sympathy over American pleas on behalf of Tahmooressi after that.