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The Tijuana weekly Zeta's story Friday notes that the federal judge who freed Jorge Hank Rhon on Tuesday did not even make a ruling about the arms caches found on his property, but instead let him go because there was no search warrant and no evidence that someone was being caught in the act of committing a crime, which could allow such a warrantless raid. The story said Hank's lawyers were not convinced that Judge Blanca Evelia Parra Meza would rule in their favor about the legality and irregularities of the search, and had also prepared a defense involving the weapons that did not have to be used. The paper said the attorneys said no request was being made for the return of the weapons, as Hank at one point said the weapons had been planted and therefore, the weapons should belong to whomever planted them. This apparently means that Hank will not seek the return of two unlicensed weapons with his name on them. Zeta said it appeared that videos do not show weapons being planted. Videos rather were used to establish that the raid did not stop a crime in progress.
A lawyer told the paper the judge could have, based on the large number of unlicensed weapons and weapons that are only supposed to be in the possession of the military, bound Hank over for trial on arms stockpiling charges, but decided to concentrate on undue search and seizure instead.
The paper listed the makes and calibers of the 88 weapons seized, including many of their serial numbers.
Zeta reported Friday that a protected witness allegedly told prosecutors that Hank had had a relationship with Angélica María Muñoz before she became his son Sergio Hank Krauss's girlfriend and had a daughter with Sergio. Her picture appears on Zeta's cover this week.
Zeta said the protected witness allegedly claimed that Jorge Hank Rhon ordered her murder and allegedly had his security chief, Jorge Vera Ayala, and others carry out the slaying at her apartment after midnight on Friday, Aug. 14, 2009. This case is why Hank was placed under house arrest after the federal judge ruled that Hank could go free on the arms charges. However, state Judge Francisco Alberto Molina then promptly released Hank.
The story goes that Sergio Hank Krauss left Muñoz's place after midnight, and that her home was broken into shortly afterward and she called Sergio Hank Krauss by radio phone. Hank Krauss then rushed to her place, where he found her badly wounded by gunfire, the story goes, and he took her to the Hospital Ángeles, where she died the next day. Zeta said that her case, however, was not reported to police until 12 hours after the shooting, by which time Sergio Hank Krauss had changed clothes and thoroughly cleaned his car and her pajamas. Zeta said the woman's ex-husband, policeman Julio Loya Quiralte, was questioned but apparently found to have an alibi.
The other two cases involving guns found at Hank's compound that ballistics tests linked to murders were:
• A .40 caliber gun killed Martín Feliciano Camacho in the summer of 2010. The case began when Fernanda Federico Moreno, the wife of Rafael Feliciano Camacho, was kidnapped on July 8, 2010, in San Luis Río Colorado. A ransom apparently was paid in Tijuana for her freedom, but the kidnappers then apparently wanted more money, Zeta reported. Rafael Feliciano Camacho then "commissioned" his brother to make the second payment in a park in Tijuana's Río Zone on July 28, where his bullet-ridden body was found, the paper said. Two days later, the bound and apparently strangled body of the wife was found south of Mexicali.
On Oct. 21, 2010, a kidnapping attempt was made against Martín Feliciano Camacho, but police responded quickly and killed José Pulido Moreno, 39, of Tijuana, Zeta reported. A Mexicali policeman and a former Tecate policeman were detained, and the case was linked to the first kidnapping.
• A .38 caliber gun killed a security guard, Olegario Figueroa Leandro, on Dec. 16, 2009, outside the Christian Audigiers Outlet Store on Lázaro Cárdenas avenue near the state prison. The paper said the store sold clothing liked by young people involved in drug trafficking. The guard was killed by men trying to get into the shop; two men inside the shop were not hurt, Zeta said. At the scene, casings from a 9mm pistol were found; ballistics tests indicated that that gun had been used to kill Andrés Florencio Ibarra of Mexicali about 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2009 in front of the BBVA-Bancomer bank at the intersection of Las Americas and Díaz Ordaz boulevards in Tijuana.
Zeta renewed its call Friday for the state government to reopen the case of slain Zeta journalist Héctor "El Gato" Félix, who was killed in 1988 by Jorge Hank Rhon's bodyguards, Antonio Vera Palestina and Victoriano Medina Moreno. "The day of the crime, Antonio Vera Palestina received a payment of the equivalent of $10,000," the paper said.
It noted that three homicides were apparently committed with guns found on Hank's property June 4 (although it appears that there may be only two; the third homicide apparently was brought about by a third gun whose tell-tale casing was found at the the scene of one of the other two homicides — see story above).
One could detect a certain amount of satisfaction in the Tijuana weekly Zeta's coverage of former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon's arrest on suspicion of possessing illegal weapons, seeing as how two of Hank's employees were convicted in the 1988 killing of Zeta cofounder Héctor "El Gato" Félix. Zeta refused to run city government advertising when Hank was mayor. Zeta's story reads: "For the first time in in the 25 years he has resided in Tijuana, Baja California, Jorge Hank Rhon faces a criminal case against him." Hank, whom Zeta journalists suspect of having been the mastermind behind Félix's murder, was never charged. Many have long suspected that Hank Rhon's gambling operations have been a cover for laundering drug-trafficking money, but he has never been charged in such a case.
Zeta's coverage in its June 10-16 edition, perhaps because of the paper's intense interest in the case, was the best of any Tijuana news organization. Perhaps this occurred also in part because it had the benefit of having nearly a week to put together its package on the Hank case. Some of its coverage can be seen online now; however, Zeta often waits several days before putting the majority of its articles on the Internet to boost newsstand sales, and not all of the articles that run in the print edition appear online. As of Monday morning, it was still running the previous week's cover showing populist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was interviewed at length by Zeta's journalists. On Monday afternoon, it had posted its package of stories. Zeta's website.
It reported that two of the weapons seized that have Hank Rhon's name on them were not registered with authorities. Only 10 of 88 weapons found were registered; 49 of the weapons are for the exclusive use of the Mexican military.
Zeta said the weapons and ammunition, most of it also for the exclusive use of the military, were discovered in five different places in Hank's Agua Caliente racetrack compound, in:
A pickup next to a guardhouse
In the stables area
In a passageway between a gym and the master bedroom of the main residence
In a service room between a chapel and the main residence
Ten of the weapons were found to have permits.
Zeta said that in the last six years, there have been constant calls to authorities reporting that armed security guards were in the streets around the compound.
Hank's lawyers said those detained with him were not his employees, but rather those of a security firm he contracts with.
Zeta reported that of the 10 others detained with Hank, six had previously had brushes with the law, according to case numbers it cited. It did not cite the disposition of the cases.
Cesar Pérez Guerrero, 29: drunk in public, and lack of respect for authority.
Javier Marco Polo Ayala Roldán, 43: vehicle robbery, damaging property
Rigoberto González López, 28 (age 29 on Tuesday, June 14): abuse of authority, fighting in public, among other cases
Carlos González Pérez Contreras, theft of vehicle equipment
Rubén Muñoz Nava, robbery
Juan Ignacio Parra Santo, vehicle robbery
Zeta also reported on how bus and taxi drivers were paid to transport protesters to last week's rally supporting Hank. It quoted one driver as saying he was offered 500 pesos ($42) for the task. The paper said drivers from Mexicali or Ensenada were offered 1,500 pesos, or $126). Zeta's reporter watched as a PRI operative handing out money after the rally bargained drivers down, telling one driver he would only pay 1,200 pesos because the bus was not full. A taxi driver who said he was offered 400 pesos was offered 200 by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) operative who was quoted as saying, "You didn't bring anybody." One bus driver told Zeta that state Deputy and businessman Gregorio Barreto was involved in the transportation scheme. Zeta also reported that Barreto has been staying rent-free at Hank's Pueblo Amigo hotel, where Hank's wife, María Elvia de Hank, also stayed until authorities said she could return to her home.
MexicoPerspective rally story.
Félix murder case:
One bodyguard, Victoriano Medina Moreno, is serving his sentence in "El Hongo" prison in Tecate, where Hank was transferred Wednesday. He is serving a 27-year sentence.
The other, Antonio Vera Palestina, is in the Puente Grande prison in Jalisco state, serving a 25-year sentence in the 1988 murder. His term lasts until 2015, but he has received an amparo to get out early; the justice system is still weighing what to do with him. Vera Palestina was Hank's security chief.
Every week, Zeta runs a page asking Hank why his bodyguard Antonio Vera Palestina killed Félix and Baja California's governor whether his government can capture those whose who ordered the murder.
Vera Palestina's son Jorge Mario Vera Ayala, born April 27, 1985, was reported to be a police commander in Mexico state. He had been Hank's security detail chief, but after getting into trouble time and time again, and apparently having his weapons license revoked by Tijuana police, he may have moved to Mexico state, where he does have a weapons license. Mexico state is where Hank is from. However, Hank said at a media conference on June 20 that Vera, who has not been seen in public since Hank was detained June 4, still was with his team. Zeta reported that in 2007, Vera Ayala survived unhurt in his armored car during an assassination attempt against him; it reported that he possessed a pickup that was used in the commission of a 2006 murder, but he was not charged. Zeta said that in 2008, he fired at a police vehicle, and a week later was picked up with six others for firing weapons in the Puerta de Hierra neighborhood. It said that in 2009 he was detained in San Luis Río Colorado for carrying weapons for use by the military, but was freed. Zeta said that the same year, he escaped from the Attorney General's Office in Tijuana, where he was detained on suspicious of carrying eight prohibited weapons; the paper said that weeks later, he was sent to the La Mesa prison before being freed on bail Nov. 14.