By Bridget Johnson
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is circulating a letter around the House trying to rally support for kidnapped U.S. Marine veteran Armando Torres.
The U.S. citizen and Marine in the Individual Ready Reserve and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom drove across the border on May 14 to visit his father's ranch in La Barranca, Tamaulipas, which is located near the International Port of Entry Bridge at Los Indios, Texas.
Soon after Torres arrived at the ranch, armed gunmen stormed the property and took the 25-year-old Marine as well as his father, Armando Torres II, and his uncle Salvador Torres, both Mexican citizens.
The gunmen also reportedly took belongings from the house and the family's cars.
The Marine's sister, Cristina Torres of Virginia, told The Monitor newspaper in McAllen, Texas, that drug traffickers had been trying to acquire the ranch because of its proximity to the border but the Torres family wouldn't give it up.
The FBI issued an appeal for information last month for help in locating the father of two and his relatives.
"I am greatly appreciative of the efforts for Corporal Torres thus far but it is more crucial than ever that more Members of the House stand in support of our kidnapped U.S. Marine Armando Torres. Taken over two months ago, Armando's kidnappers must hear the voice of the United States loud and clear and know that we will not rest until he is released and returned. I appeal to all of my colleagues in Congress to stand with me in support of Armando Torres and make clear that the United States will not and does not give up," Ros-Lehtinen said.
The "dear colleague" letter circulated asks that members make a floor statement to keep attention on the case or submit a statement on Torres' behalf. "The United States does not give up and does not leave one of our own behind," the letter states.
It includes statements made thus far by Ros-Lehtinen and Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Filomen Vela (D-Texas) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.). Broun and Hunter are also Marine vets.
"I urge the Obama administration to make a public statement about Corporal Torres and I hope that Secretary Napolitano discussed his kidnapping with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong while in Mexico this week," Ros-Lehtinen said. "Media coverage of Armando here and in Mexico is critical in making sure his kidnappers know they have the full attention of the United States government."