Former Tijuana Mayor Arrested Over Guns: Official

Sunday, Jun 5, 2011  |  Updated 2:31 PM PDT
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An expert said the arrest of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon means progress in Mexican war on crime.

An expert said the arrest of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon means progress in Mexican war on crime.

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Former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon, one of Mexico's most flamboyant businessmen and politicians, has been arrested on suspicion of illegal weapons possession, federal law enforcement officials said Saturday.

Mexican troops raided Hank Rhon's Tijuana house and took him to a branch office of the federal Attorney General's Office, according to one of the officials.

He said Hank Rhon is suspected of having 88 unlicensed weapons. Another official confirmed the report. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case.

Hank Rhon's office did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Hank Rhon was mayor of Tijuana from 2004 to 2007. He is a self-proclaimed billionaire who owns a dog-track, a chain of gambling parlors and the Tijuana soccer team that recently won advancement into Mexico's top soccer league.

His private zoo at one point had 20,000 animals, five times more than the famous San Diego Zoo across the border.

He is the son of a prominent figure in the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, Carlos Hank Gonzalez, who served in Mexico's Cabinet and was mayor of Mexico City.

A 1999 report by the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center singled him out as an associate of drug smugglers, but then-Attorney General Janet Reno called the report incomplete and said its conclusions were "never adopted as official view."

Hank Rhon, the father of 19 children with several different women, said several years ago he was too rich to be corrupt:

"I don't put anything in my pockets. I take it out," he said. "I have a really big business ... and with that money I support myself, my wife, my kids and grandkids."

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