WESTON, Fla. – A U.S. Marine reservist from South Florida is being held in shackles in a Mexican jail cell as his family continues to fight for his release thousands of miles away.
Twenty-five-year-old Andrew Tahmooressi is being held at the La Mesa Prison in Tijuana for the 30th night in a row, Thursday. "He is crippled," said his mother, Jill Tahmooressi, as she spoke to 7News from her Weston, Fla. home. "He is crippled mentally, he is crippled physically. He's been restrained, four-point restrained in chains."
Jill said she was jolted awake by her son's phone call on April 1st. "'Mom, I got lost. I made a wrong turn and I ended up as a Mexican border,'" said Jill as she related what Andrew said to her. "'I'm telling you this in case anything happens to me. All the Mexican officials are surrounding my truck now. I'll call you back.'"
Twelve hours later, Andrew called again, but this time as a prisoner. According to the 25-year-old, he had made a wrong turn trying to meet a friend near San Diego. Jill said everything her son owned was in the back of his truck, "including his U.S., legal purchased firearms."
Mexican border guards in Tijuana threw the U.S. Marine behind bars. "There is absolutely no indication that he's going to get out of jail, and of course, no indication as to when," she said.
According to prison officials, Andrew unsuccessfully attempted to escape from La Mesa on April 6 by scaling a wall topped with coiled barbed wire.
In 2012, another South Florida Marine, Jon Hammar, landed in a Mexican prison across the Texas border. His family finally freed him after four months.
"My nights are miserable, my days as miserable," Tahmooressi's mother said.
Andrew's mother said she started a White House petition to free her son. "I need 150 signatures," she said.
As she continues her efforts, Jill clings to pictures, sporadic jailhouse phone calls from Mexico and video clips like the one Andrew took of the last day of his tour in Afghanistan.
According to Jill Tahmooressi's mother, 10 days before her son was arrested, he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She said he was in Southern California seeking treatment for his condition.
U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she has contacted the State Department about the issue. Her communications director, Sean Bartlett, released a statement Thursday that said: "The Congresswoman read Ms. Tahmooressi's letter with concern, and instructed her staff to get in touch with the State Department right away to ensure that Andrew's case was being handled as expeditiously as possible. Our office will remain in close contact with the State Department as the trial approaches, and will continue to be of service to the family where we can and when appropriate."
No trial date for Andrew has been set.
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