MEXICO CITY – U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, jailed in Mexico in April after crossing the border with several guns in his possession, has tried to escape twice and exhibited violent behavior, officials said.
When the 25-year-old suspect was incarcerated, he “manifested violent conduct, tried to escape on two occasions and inflicted physical harm on himself,” the Attorney General’s Office said Friday in its first statement on the case.
He was therefore placed “in the infirmary area,” the AG’s office said, adding that “his basic rights, including (the right to) due process, his personal safety and his right to consular notification and access” have been respected since his arrest.
Tahmooressi, a Marine sergeant who served two tours in Afghanistan, was arrested on April 1 when he entered the northwestern Mexican border city of Tijuana from San Diego with firearms, ammunition and ammunition clips that are reserved for the use of the Mexican army.
Tahmooressi did not identify himself as an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces at the time of his arrest and did not provide Mexican customs officials with a permit for importing or carrying the weapons, the AG’s office said.
Federal prosecutors launched an investigation into violations of Mexican firearms and explosives law and on April 3 the suspect was brought before a judge and jailed at the La Mesa penitentiary in Tijuana.
He was later transferred to another facility, also in Baja California state.
Two hearings in his case were postponed after Tahmooressi changed his defense attorney and no new dates have been set.
Signs warning that it is prohibited to enter Mexico with firearms are “clearly visible” near border crossings, the AG’s office said.
Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services committee, has made efforts to secure the suspect’s release, arguing that the whole episode was a misunderstanding.
Hunter, a war veteran like Tahmooressi, asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to suspend all military aid to Mexico until the Marine is released from custody.