EL PASO, Texas - A U.S. soldier who was held in a Mexican jail for more than a month on weapons charges has been released, Mexican authorities said.
Spc. Richard Torres was arrested April 21 after he has said he accidentally crossed the border in El Paso with an AR-15 assault rifle, a .45-caliber handgun and 171 bullets in his car.
In a statement released Friday, a spokesman for the Center for Social Readaption jail in Ciudad Juarez said Torres, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, was released to U.S. authorities Friday afternoon.
Torres had faced a gun-possession charge.
Torres' mother, Gloria Medina, said in a phone interview Friday that a Mexican judge hearing the case threw out the charge, allowing Torres to be released Friday afternoon.
"The U.S. consulate called and said, 'I've got good news for you, Richard's being released,'" Medina said.
She said she spoke to her son and he was planning to drive to California after stopping for dinner in El Paso. A cell phone number for Torres was out of service on Friday.
Gloria Medina said neither she nor her son are harboring any ill feelings toward Mexico.
"I am just glad they have finally seen the light," she said.
Medina said Torres' 1999 Honda Prelude was released to the Army earlier this month and had been stored at Fort Bliss.
Torres said in previous interviews that he was headed home to Fresno, Calif., from Fort Hood, when he decided to stop in El Paso and walk across the border to grab breakfast in Ciudad Juarez, a hardscrabble border city plagued with violence.
Misunderstanding directions from a gas station attendant after driving all night, Torres said he accidentally crossed the border while looking for a place to park.
Investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded that Torres, who was transferring to an Army unit based in Honduras when he was arrested, was not smuggling weapons into Mexico to sell them.
Medina said Torres will have a few weeks to spend at home before he reports back to Fort Hood and eventually to his next assignment in Honduras.