FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 6, 2014
THE MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE PROVIDES UPDATE ON THE LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST EX US MARINE ANDREW PAUL TAHMOORESSI
This past April 1st, U.S. citizen Andrew Paul Tahmooressi was detained after entering Tijuana, Mexico through the Tijuana-San Ysidro entry point. He was traveling in a pickup truck carrying firearms and ammunition, both of which may only be legally carried by the military in Mexico. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Tahmooressi was carrying:
1 12-gauge shotgun, made by BENELL, loaded with four 12 caliber rounds;
1 5.56-caliber rifle, M6A2-SPARTAN ALPHA make and model, loaded with a 5.56-caliber 30 round clip;
2 boxes of ammunition, one with twenty-seven rounds, and the other with eleven rounds, both 12-gauge;
1 45-caliber pistol, loaded with ten 45-caliber rounds;
2 45-caliber clips, one with seven 45-caliber rounds;
2 5.56-caliber clips, one with twenty-three rounds and the other with thirty rounds; and
300 5.56-caliber rounds.
Because Mr. Tahmooressi did not identify himself as an active member of the U.S. armed forces, nor did he present any licenses to import or carry arms to Mexican customs officials, he was detained and placed under the custody of the Office of Mexico’s Attorney General in Baja California.
The Office of Mexico’s Attorneys General began a criminal investigation against Mr. Tahmooressi for violations of the Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives. This past April 3rd, he was processed and committed to the Center for Social Reinsertion (CERESO) in La Mesa, Tijuana. On April 8, 2014, a federal judge ordered that he be held in custody pending the result of his legal process and on May 8th, he was transferred to the Center for Social Reinsertion “El Hongo No. 2”, in Tecate, Baja California.
From the moment of his arrest, Mr. Tahmooressi’s fundamental rights have been respected, including the rights to due process and personal integrity, as well as his right to consular notification and access, given that he is a foreign citizen. It is worth noting that upon his entry into the prison in La Mesa, Mr. Tahmooressi demonstrated violent behavior, twice attempting to escape and suffering self-inflicted wounds, which led him to be placed in the infirmary. From that point on, he has been under constant medical watch and in good health.
During his time in custody, he has been visited on different occasions by U.S. consular officials. Additionally, he has received more than 50 visits from his lawyers, his pastor and his mother, as well as a visit from U.S. Congressman Matt Salmon this past May 31st.
The procedures before the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding Mr. Tahmooressi's case have followed the principles of impartiality, objectivity and legality in order to properly comply with Mexican law. As a result of its investigation, the Public Prosecutor's Office has presented the judge with information provided by U.S. authorities indicating that Mr. Tahmooressi had entered through the same border crossing at which he was detained with the aforementioned weapons on three prior occasions. This information stands in contrast with his original statement in which he claimed it was the first time he had crossed at the location and had done so by mistake.
In Mexico, as in the United States, ignorance of the law, error or misunderstandings about the consequences of breaking the law, do not exempt an individual from responsibility.
It is also important to note that leading up to the border crossing where Mr. Tahmooressi was detained, there are several clearly visible signs indicating both the close proximity to Mexico and that carrying firearms into Mexico is illegal.
Regarding the current state of the legal process, we inform that Andrew Tahmooressi, in accordance with his right to counsel of choice, has decided to change his defense lawyer, resulting in a postponement of his last few hearings which still have not been rescheduled.
The Attorney General's Office reiterates its commitment to the observance of human rights and respect for due process of all those arrested, and rejects any assertion of mistreatment of Mr. Tahmooressi as baseless.
Finally, it should be underscored that the Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives is of fundamental importance in the actions Mexico takes to prevent and combat violence in its territory, particularly in the border region.