TIJUANA, Mexico – Politician and businessman Jorge Hank Rhon will remain in prison while he is investigated for murder even though a judge ordered his release, citing lack of evidence to prosecute him on arms charges, officials said Tuesday.
Judge Blanca Evelia Parra ordered Hank Rhon’s immediate release from prison, the Federal Judiciary Council said.
The judge also ordered the immediate release from the El Hongo II prison in Tecate, a city in Baja California state, of the 10 people arrested with Hank Rhon on June 4.
Hank Rhon, a former mayor of the border city of Tijuana, and 10 other men were accused of being in possession of illegal weapons by the federal Attorney General’s Office, which said it would appeal the judge’s ruling.
The businessman was taken from El Hongo II to the organized crime unit of the Baja California state Attorney General’s Office following the judge’s ruling and remains there.
The state AG’s office issued a preventive arrest order for the businessman so it can investigate him for murder, Baja California Human Rights Prosecutor Heriberto Garcia and attorney Carlos Barbosa, who is working on Hank Rhon’s defense, told Efe.
The preventive arrest order is linked to two of the firearms seized from Hank Rhon because ballistics tests concluded that the weapons were used in murders committed in Baja California, Garcia and Barbosa said.
Preventive arrest allows prosecutors to hold a suspect for up to three months while they build a case against them.
Army troops found 40 rifles, 48 handguns and 9,250 rounds of ammunition at Hank Rhon’s residence, and he only had permits for 10 of the weapons.
The army said it received a tip from a citizen that three armed individuals were at a hotel.
The three suspects told soldiers that arms were hidden at a nearby house, which turned out to be the politician’s residence, the army said.
Hank Rhon, who belongs to a powerful Mexican family and is a member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was arrested.
Some people have linked Hank Rhon, who owns hotels, shopping centers and an interest in the Caliente casino company, to drug trafficking and the Tijuana drug cartel, but the allegations have never been proven. EFE