Mother of Marine Andrew Tahmooressi says wrong turn landed him in Tijuana prison

SAN DIEGO - The mother of a young Marine veteran is speaking out after she says a wrong turn landed her son inside a Tijuana prison.

From her Florida home, a heartbroken Jill Tahmooressi talked about a nightmare that began a month ago.

Her 25-year-old son Andrew, a decorated Marine veteran with two combat tours in Afghanistan, had recently driven to San Diego in a truck filled with his belongings. He was looking for a job and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to Jill Tahmooressi, one night, he was trying to meet a friend for dinner at the outlet mall in San Ysidro when he found himself past the last U.S. exit and headed to the San Ysidro Port of Entry into Mexico -- with no chance to turn around.

He then called his mother.

"He said, 'Mom, I'm calling you because I made a wrong turn. I got lost and I'm at the Mexican inspection area. I'm calling you to let you know where I am in case something happens to me,'" said Tahmooressi.

Soon after, he was arrested for having three U.S.-registered firearms.

A few days later, Tahmooressi said she got an agonizing call from her son from inside a Tijuana prison.

"He said, 'There are hitmen in here I'm being held with who have told me they're going to kill me tonight. They're going rape, torture and kill me, and they pointed to the vehicle that would take my body away,'" said Tahmooressi.

What followed was a sleepless night for Tahmooressi.

"I stayed up in a fetal position, clutching my Bible, trying to gain some confidence that God would help him through the ordeal," said Tahmooressi.

Her son would survive the night.

Since then, Andrew Tahmooressi has received nine visits from the U.S. consulate to check on him. His mother was able to visit once.

"I'm never seen him in such despair. He's pretty hopeless and is very afraid," said Tahmooressi.

On Friday, Rep. Duncan Hunter sent a letter to the U.S. State Department supporting his immediate release.

10News was the first to tell Tahmooressi of the letter.

"That's so awesome, so awesome," she said.

The last call Tahmooreesi received from her son was on April 27. She said he told her they had routinely chained his arms and legs to a cot for the last 25 days.

A court hearing where information on the case will be read aloud is planned for late May.

State Department officials said they do not comment on arrests of private individuals without the person's permission.

In 2008, an active-duty Army soldier was jailed in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, for driving into Mexico with guns, knives and ammunition. He said he was lost and was eventually released.

Click here to read the petition for Tahmooreesi's release.

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