The mother of a decorated U.S. Marine has been living through a self-described “nightmare” for over a month as her son has been chained to a cot in a Mexican prison after being arrested on gun charges at a border crossing.
Jill Tahmooressi’s son, Andrew, called her in the early morning hours of April 1 as Mexican officials surrounded his black Ford F-150 pick-up loaded with everything he owned – including three registered firearms – after the Marine made a wrong turn at the San Ysidro, California border crossing and ended up in Mexico. A day later, Jill received word that her 25-year old son was under arrest on gun charges and was being held indefinitely in La Mesa Prison in Tijuana.
“The nightmare is getting worse and worse,” Jill Tahmooressi told Fox News Latino of her son’s plight.
An active U.S. Marine reservist who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, including a 2010 stint in the violent Marjah district, Andrew Tahmooressi returned to the U.S. highly decorated – including earning a rare combat meritorious promotion to sergeant – but also emotionally and physically scarred from his war experience.
Tahmooressi suffered a severe concussion when an improvised explosive device (IED) upended his combat vehicle while in Afghanistan and he now suffers from what his mother, a nurse, calls directional dysfunctionality – frequently getting lost even in areas that he has driven in for years. The Marine reservist was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on March 20, with his mother saying he suffered from bouts of depression and hyper-vigilance among other symptoms, and was moving to the San Diego area with a Marine friend to be close to his treatment center.
His mother, who lives in South Florida, and others close to Tahmooressi’s case say that his history of getting easily lost, paired with a lack of clear signage at the San Ysidro border crossing, led Tahmooressi to unwittingly entering Mexico.
“You’re a football field away from Mexico and you don’t even know it,” Jill Tahmooressi said. “It’s irresponsible that the U.S. government who protects our borders can’t provide good signage.”
During his first few days in La Mesa Prison, Tahmooressi told his mother that he was constantly being threatened by prison gang members while he was being held in the general populace section of the jail.
“He was in the general population, but when he called me it sounded like a riot was going on,” she said. “Gang hitmen told him he was going to be raped, tortured, killed and leave the prison in a body bag.”
These threats ostensibly led Tahmooressi to make an escape attempt by scaling a barb-wired fence. After being caught and having his wounds treated at Tijuana General Hospital following a self-inflicted stabbing, he was placed in the infirmary with his arms and legs restrained. Family and friends now worry that he could be transferred to a more high-security prison.