Published December 17, 2012
| Fox News Latino
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Held captive in one of Mexico's most infamous prisons, Marine Veteran Jon Hammar is seen chained to a bed in a new photo sent to the family from an anonymous Mexican email account.
"His eyes look a little lost," an emotional Olivia Hammar, his mother, told Fox News Latino. "It doesn't look like him. I feel like my blood pressure is through the roof."
The photo shows Hammar in solitary confinement inside the Matamoros state prison, nicknamed CEDES. A scraggly looking Hammar is seen shirtless and barefoot with a beard, jean shorts and with his feet over what appears to be grey crocs. He is sitting on an old twin-sized mattress in a room with chipped walls. A gallon of water and a refrigerator are seen to his right. Hammar is staring at the person taking the photo and does not appear to have any visible injuries.
It is the first photo released of Hammar since he and a friend were detained by Mexican authorities in August. The pair had crossed the border and handed the paperwork for the weapon to Mexican officials, but police ended up impounding their RV and jailing the men, saying it was illegal to carry that type of gun. Hammar's friend was later released because the gun did not belong to him.
According to Hammar and his family, the gun was an antique shotgun that had belonged to his great grandfather.
The email of the photo was sent anonymously from a Yahoo.mx account.
"I found your email on the Internet and I wanted to send you this photo," the email read in Spanish. "I am not giving you my name because I like my job and I don't want to lose it. Juan is OK but I hope he is let out quickly."
Hammar's parents, Olivia, a magazine publisher, and Jon, a software engineer, have only visited the prison once but unlike past phone calls they've received in the middle of the night from prisoners trying to extort money, Olivia believes this comes from "someone trying to help."
"He doesn't trust anyone," Olivia said of her son.
"Where he is in the prison, he's right next to the administrative offices," she told Fox News Latino. "All of the inmates, staff, all of the visitors walk right by there. So anyone could have taken the photo."
It is difficult to decipher who sent the photo because the prison has a fairly open guest policy. Visitors are allowed to meet with inmates privately and even give them food and gifts. Hammar is said to be chained to a bed for security purposes. After his parents pleaded with U.S. diplomats, he was removed out of the general cellblocks of the notoriously dangerous prison and placed in solitary confinement.
Hammar and his fellow marine friend, Ian Mcdonough, were on their way to Costa Rica to surf and camp in a Winnebago in Costa Rica when they were arrested. Both marine veterans spent several days in custody separated from one another, but McDonough was eventually freed.
Hammar enlisted in the marines at age 18 and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. His unit provided security for Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, protected election polls and disrupted insurgent cells.
Hammar voluntarily checked himself into treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011. He graduated from "The Pathway Home" in May.
The charges against Hammar appear to be over a technicality. Mexican prosecutors allege the length of Hammar's shotgun barrel, which according to Mexican law the gun cannot measure less than 25 inches, was too short, although a discrepancy has emerged over how the barrel was measured.
Hammar's parents came forward to the media on December 6 hoping the publicity will push Mexican authorities to act.
Since then, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla) have spoken on the House and Senate floors asking Mexican authorities to release Hammar.
The family lawyer, Eddie Varon-Levy, hopes the case can be resolved before Hammar's next court date on Jauary 17.