A Marine veteran jailed in Mexico on weapons charges for allegedly bringing three U.S.-registered firearms across the border said he never intended to leave the United States after missing an exit when heading to meet friends in a border town.
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, said he was headed to meet friends for dinner in San Ysidro on March 31 when he mistakenly wound up at a border crossing point in Tijuana, U-T San Diego reported on Sunday.
“I never meant to be in Mexico,” Tahmooressi said in an interview Saturday afternoon at the La Mesa State Penitentiary. “I had no bad intentions, I had no intentions of smuggling my weapons, I had no intentions of selling them or anything of the sort.”
Tahmooressi is charged with possession of two firearms meant for exclusive use of the Mexican military; bail is not permitted. If convicted, he faces six to 21 years in a Mexican prison, said his Tijuana attorneys.
According to U-T San Diego :
“We believe our client’s version that he mistakenly drove into Mexico,” they wrote. Mexico’s federal criminal code provides that absence of intent “is an exception to the application of a penalty. Sgt. Tahmooressi never intended to ‘possess’ weapons in Mexico.”
The Marine veteran is not the first to claim he drove into Mexico mistakenly with weapons.
In 1999, a Camp Pendleton Marine was detained for two weeks in Tijuana after driving into the country with firearms. The Marine claimed he did so by mistake, and a federal judge ordered his release after the Mexican Attorney General asked that all charges be dropped.
Tahmooressi’s attorneys said the case against their client could be dropped if the Mexican Attorney General’s Office in Mexico City requests dismissal. The judge could also dismiss the case before sentencing if there has been a gross violation of due process, they said.
“What Cinco de Mayo stands for is liberty, unity, and democracy,” Jill Tahmooressi, mother of reservist Andrew Tahmooressi, told WTVJ in Miami. “And together, the United States can together have a unionized voice asking for an “expedited” process of Andrew’s case.