Flamboyant ex-mayor arrested with arsenal in Mexico

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 04, 2011 1:33 PM

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican gambling tycoon Jorge Hank Rhon, an eccentric former mayor of Tijuana who collected exotic animals, was arrested on Saturday after the army found a large weapons cache in his home.

The millionaire businessman Hank Rhon, who owns a successful chain of casinos, a local soccer team and a private zoo, was arrested when the army raided a home inside one his 'Caliente' betting parlors in Tijuana, finding dozens rifles and grenades, a source from the federal police told Reuters.

He was arrested along with more than 10 other people after the army received an anonymous tip, the source said asking not to be named for security reasons. Three people were wounded after trying to resist arrest, the source said.

Hank Rhon belongs to a prominent political family of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and has a checkered past.

He was arrested in 1995 at the Mexico City airport trying to bring precious stones, ivory and ocelot furs into the country and has been accused over the years of having links to drug gangs, money laundering, and animal smuggling rings.

He lost a bid for governor of Baja California in 2006 but was mayor of Tijuana, across from San Diego, California, and a busy drug trafficking corridor, from 2004 to 2007.

Known for wearing red crocodile-skin vests and for bringing a famous killer whale that starred in "Free Willy" films to a marine park in Mexico, he once said his favorite kind of animal is women.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Mica Rosenberg, Editing by Sandra Maler)