A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reforma reports that alleged assassination attempt
against informant led to raid on Hank's home

Story would back Calderón's assertion that he was not informed
and that raid was not politically motivated

Reforma reports that an alleged assassination attempt against an informant led to the June 4 raid on former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon's home.

The case may have resulted as a result of a drunken frenzy by two men in a hotel who served as security guards for Hank.

The paper said two sources told it that electrician Juan Ignacio Parra was sent to Room 201 at the the Suites Royal hotel 9in Tijuana after a lamp in the room made contact with water, causing a short circuit.

The electrician reportedly heard two men, identified as Ramón López and Carlos Gonzalo Pérez, say they were going to "disappear" someone else staying at the hotel. The electrician reportedly saw saw two guns on the beds.

López and Pérez were the only two men seized with Hank on June 4 who were released before June 14, the day Hank and others were ordered freed by a federal judge. The story says they had been waiting for a DEA informant named "La Gorda" to arrive, not realizing that "La Gorda" already was in the hotel. The story said "La Gorda" reportedly frequented the hotel to meet with his lover.

During a three-day wait, López and Pérez reportedly went on a binge, and reportedly had planned to have an uncle bring them some prostitutes. During the binge, one of the men reportedly dropped the lamp into some water, causing the short circuit.

The paper said the electrician told authorities that he repaired the lamp at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 3, and later went to "La Gorda's" room to tell him of the plan he heard the men talking about. "La Gorda" asked the electrician to return to his room at 9:30 that evening, but when Parra returned, he was met instead by military authorities.

Sources told Reforma that the military authorities then entered Room 201, where López and Pérez, reportedly still in sorry shape, told them they were security guards for Hank and that he had a lot of weapons at his home.

The military's raid on Hank's compound then took place within hours, at 2:56 a.m., according to videos that recorded the soldiers' entering the compound.

The military's not obtaining a search warrant to search the compound and other irregularities caused the federal judge to decided there was not probable cause to bind Hank and the others over for trial.

The scenario outlined by Reforma, if true, would appear to confirm President Felipe Calderón's assertion that he did not know about the raid beforehand.

Reforma's story in Frontera


Friday, June 24, 2011

Calderón laments Hank's release, bishops' support of Hank

President says he was not informed in advance about the Hank raid

President Felipe Calderón said Thursday he was not informed in advance about the Jorge Hank raid, but lamented Hank's release considering that two arms found on Hank's property were linked to murders and blasted the support that Catholic bishops gave to Hank.

He said he wished the raid on the former Tijuana mayor's compound had been conducted in such a way that the federal judge in the case could not have decided to throw out the arms charges. There was no search warrant and other irregularities in the raid.

Calderón said he was disappointed to see the archbishop of Tijuana, Rafael Romo Muñoz, and the bishop of Mexicali, José Isidro Guerrero Macías, throw their support to Hank.

The president made the remarks following a meeting with Javier Sicilia, a poet whose son was slain in Cuernavaca by apparent drug traffickers. The son had been on an innocent night out; his death may have been collateral damage from the drug war. Sicilia has led two national marches against the drug war, 8including one from Cuernavaca to Ciudad Juárez. Calderón made a point of noting that Sicilia's son had not been killed by Mexican forces or police, but rather by criminals, who apparently were angered by something one of the son's acquaintances had done or said.

Frontera's story.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

70% in informal poll don't want Hank Rhon
to run for Baja California governor in 2013

Although the detention and freeing of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon has been seen as more damaging to President Felipe Calderón and his National Action Party than to Hank's Institutional Revolutionary Party, the damage to Hank's future political aspirations appears to have been significant.

Frontera said that there were more than 60,000 responses to questions it posed for people to respond to via the Internet, and that 70% did not want Hank to run for governor in 2013.

Frontera said it asked readers which questions they would have liked Hank to answer more fully, and 44% said, "Why was there an arsenal in your house?" and 34% "Why are they accusing you in the murder of your son's girlfriend?" (who also was the mother of Hank's granddaughter). Hank said in the media conference that he had no involvement in the 2009 slaying.

One of the most important questions Hank answered Monday was his confirming that he no longer has a visa to cross the border into the United States. This slap in the face from the U.S. government likely would be political fodder in 2013. Would Baja California want a governor who is persona non grata with its most important customer?

Colegio de la Frontera Norte researcher Víctor Espinoza pointed out in a recent column that he was one of the few predicting a Hank come-from-behind-in-the-polls victory in the mayor's race in 2004, in part because of all the free dinners he and his wife had provided the poor over the course of the years and because of the community work his wife had done. But that work was done in Tijuana; voters in Mexicali, Tecate, Rosarito and Ensenada don't have that direct, positive memory of Hank. Espinoza pointed out that many voters in 2004 voted for Hank and also for PAN candidates; Hank likely would not get that crossover vote again.

Hank owed his 2004 candidacy to then-PRI President Roberto Madrazo. It is unclear whether the front-runner in the polls for the 2012 presidential election, Mexico state Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto, would want to risk his political capital with a Hank candidacy the following year if Peña Nieto were to win the presidency.

Story, Frontera.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

nak rhon xolo at press conference Hank holds media conference

Jorge Hank Rhon started his media conference punctually Monday and was calm, cool and collected. Sitting in a swivel chair and flanked by the mascot of the Xolos soccer team his Grupo Caliente sponsors, he said he was willing to let bygones be bygones. He said he would run for governor of Baja California in 2013 if called to do so by his Institutional Revolutionary Party. More than 130 people were in attendance at the conference at the Caliente compound; Frontera reported that more than 70 media organizations were present.

San Diego Union-Tribune story, which mentions that "Hank for the first time publicly acknowledged that U.S. authorities took away his visa, confirming reports since 2009 that he can no longer cross to the United States."
Frontera's story on page 2. Frontera's story on page 3.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hank Rhon publishes letter of thanks
in Tijuana newspapers

Former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon ran ads in Tijuana newspapers on Monday thanking Mexico and everyone who supported him and thanking the media who covered his case in a timely, accurate and objective manner. He also thanked authorities who he said provided him with the most precious thing humanity has, liberty, in freeing him in a federal case involving the discovery of unregistered, illegal arms on his property and a state case involving murder.

Meanwhile, Frontera ran citizen interviews on the page opposite the ad. A number of those expressed concern that Hank was freed after so many weapons were found on his property; one fellow complained that he was given a three-year sentence in the U.S. for carrying a gun without the appropriate permission. The interviews.

The ad in Frontera, which has a tabloid format, took up a full page. The El Mexicano ad took up a full page.
Ad, Frontera.

Hank was to speak to the media on Monday about the events of the last two weeks.

Carmen Aristegui cites Zeta's Adela Navarro,
WikiLeaks cable on Hank Rhon in column

Journalist Carmen Aristegui said that when Zeta editor Adela Navarro was asked about the Jorge Hank case, Navarro responded, "It's an opportunity." Aristegui noted how Hank Rhon's bodyguards were convicted in the 1998 slaying of Zeta journalist Héctor "El Gato" Félix, and suspicions that Hank Rhon was involved in other illicit activity. Aristegui's column.

She cited a WikiLeaks release of a U.S. diplomatic cable mentioning Hank Rhon, and said the door was open for U.S. authorities to provide evidence they may have about Hank to Mexican authorities.

The WikiLeaks cable from the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, from July 2009, reads:

"The complex interactions among the various local and federal law enforcement agencies and local powerbrokers make Baja California, and Tijuana in particular, still a relatively safe place for narcotraffickers to ply their trade.

"2. (C) This fact was demonstrated by a June 30 incident in front of Consulate Tijuana. Acting on information from the law enforcement community (LEC), Post's ARSO requested Baja California State Preventative Police (PEP) appear at the Consulate to arrest an American citizen who had a U.S. arrest warrant for drug trafficking and was scheduled to come in to renew his passport that day. PEP forces, as they have done in similar cases in the past, duly stationed an unmarked car outside the Consulate and waited for the subject to exit the building. However, when the subject walked out, he entered a Crown Victoria vehicle with two body guards which quickly sped off and entered the parking lot of the Agua Caliente Racetrack, across the street from the Consulate, which is owned by Tijuana former mayor Jorge Hank Rohn. (NOTE: it is unclear if the bodyguards inside the Crown Victoria were policemen offering protection to the subject or part of Hank's security apparatus, but the Crown Victoria is a typical car used by policemen who provide protection for drug traffickers or government officials). As soon as the vehicle entered the Racetrack, the PEP forces stopped their (half-hearted) pursuit and told ARSO that they "could not enter" the racetrack. And that was that.

"3. (C) Hank is widely believed to have been a corrupt mayor and to be still involved in narco-trafficking. Post usually receives exceptional cooperation from the PEP, but our normal liaison declined to involve himself in this case, and ARSO also found it odd that the PEP stationed outside the Consulate did not use normal police situational awareness procedures to notice the Crown Victoria before the subject's escape. Despite Hank's political defeat in the 2007 Baja California gubernatorial race, he still enjoys wide influence in Tijuana, and state law enforcement officials appear unwilling to meddle on areas considered his turf. This is not the first time law enforcement agencies from outside Tijuana have rubbed up against Hank. Just a month ago, Mexican military forces were involved in a standoff with local security at Hank's racetrack. There are still plenty of safe havens for organized crime in the border region."

Siempre devotes much of last week's issue to Jorge Hank Rhon

siempre cover hank rhon trophyThe Mexican magazine Siempre devoted much of last week's (June 12) issue to the Jorge Hank Rhon case. Its cover showing President Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party admiring his wall trophy of Hank's head is now badly dated following the release of the Institional Revolutionary Party politician. The cover also shows National Action Party Mexico state gubernatorial candidate Felipe Bravo Mena helping put up the trophy. One theory is that PAN officials thought the Hank case could damage the chances of the PRI's frontrunning candidate in Mexico state and boost Bravo Mena. (This, if true, was always a fantasy.)

The magazine blasts Calderón for acting like the old PRI in this case.

Siempre's website


Writer Federico Campbell unkind to Hank, unkinder to Calderón

The writer Federico Campbell, who grew up in Tijuana, does not have kind words for Jorge Hank Rhon, but saves his best fire for President Felipe Calderón and former President Vicente Fox. "In almost 12 years of ingenuities and corruption, the PANistas did not meet their promises: Get the PRI out of Los Pinos. They preferred to convert themselves, via their modus operandi, into PRIistas at heart."
His column