A retired U.S. Marine who fought in Afghanistan returned to Florida on Saturday after he spent seven months in a jail in Mexico for crossing the border with loaded weapons. The case led politicians to put pressure on Mexico for his release.
Jon Franks, the family spokesman, said the plane carrying Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, his mother and supporters landed in South Florida at 6 am on Saturday, ABC News reported. Tahmooressi was freed on Friday and reunited with his mother before boarding a flight in San Diego.
Tahmooressi, 26, said he had taken a wrong turn on a California freeway that led him into the Tijuana port of entry with no way to turn around, causing him to unintentionally and illegally transport guns into Mexico on March 31. His imprisonment led to calls for his release from veterans groups, social media campaigns and politicians.
U.S. Democratic and Republican politicians held talks with Mexican authorities to urge his release, while a U.S. congressional committee held a public hearing to put pressure on Mexico.
Mexican authorities said they would not be influenced by politics and the issue was in the hands of their court system, CBS News reported.
One of his most vocal supporters was former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who accompanied him on his flight home. Richardson grew up in Mexico and met with Tahmooressi in jail.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Bill Richardson” author_title=”Former New Mexico Governor”]
It’s a victory for American veterans. It’s a victory for the United States.
In Mexico, possessions of weapons is a federal crime. The Mexican judge on Friday did not make a determination of the charges against Tahmooressi but freed him due to his mental state, as he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, CNN reported. Tahmooressi will be treated for PTSD by specialists in the United States.