Published May 20, 2013
A former Marine from Texas who served for seven years has disappeared in Mexico, his family said, and has been kidnapped by armed men.
Armando Torres, 27, from Hargill, crossed the Los Indios Bridge in Brownsville, Texas on Tuesday night to visit his dad and was supposed to return Wednesday morning.
Torres' uncle, Eduardo Torres, says he's worried and claims he and two other family members from Mexico were kidnapped by armed men.
"A cousin of ours from Mexico contacted his sister, his sister called and told us that he was picked up there in Mexico," Torres’ uncle told the local NBC affiliate.
Another family member, Patricia Torres, added, "They say when they got there, they were people with weapons and they picked him up."
A missing person's report was filed with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department.
Former Marine friends of Armando Torres have started a Facebook group called "Get Our Brother Back."
One friend who served with him in Iraq, John Fray, said Torres took to YouTube to voice his frustration with Mexico's gun laws, which make it illegal for Americans to bring certain guns, but not all guns, into Mexico.
“We got a United States Marine here who goes there and is not allowed to be armed or protect himself and is taken by people with guns," Fray said.
Fray blames President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for Operation Fast & Furious, which helped arm Mexican cartels as part of a botched gun tracking program in which American guns were put into the hands of cartels in the hopes that it would lead to the arrests of cartel kingpins.
“While they attempt to destroy our Second Amendment here, we see what it’s doing, we are going to lose a Marine, we can’t leave a Marine behind," he said. "I think we should get a bunch of Marines and go in there and find him.”
Mexico gun laws are confusing. The laws are characterized as restrictive. U.S. consulate generals and massive signs along the Mexican border advise Americans and crossers that it is illegal to bring guns into Mexico. But there are exceptions if the gun is registered with border authorities of both countries and complies with Mexican law.
The process is confusing, as evidenced by the case of U.S. Marine Jon Hammar who was released from prison just in time for Christmas after spending more than four months in a Mexican prison for bringing a gun across the border for hunting. Hammar had gone through the proper process in the U.S. but Mexican officials said his gun was illegal because it was military grade. An assertion deemed false after media and politicians put pressure on the Mexican government.
Americans are constantly warned by U.S. consulates, particularly in Matamoros, Mexico, to not travel at night because of cartel violence. It is also not recommended for Americans to drive cars with U.S. plates throughout the area at night. Armando Torres did leave to spend the night with his father across the border in that area.
"He's an ex Marine and his mother is sad, he never goes over there and just decided to go over and visit his dad." said Torres’s uncle to the NBC affiliate.
"Help us out and pray for us and have him safely," said Patricia Torres.