|Jorge Hank Rhon|
|Preceded by||José de Jesús González Reyes|
|Succeeded by||Kurt Honold|
|Born||January 28, 1956 
Toluca, Estado de México
|Spouse(s)||María Elvia Amaya|
|Residence||Tijuana, Baja California|
Jorge Hank Rhon (born January 28, 1956) is a Mexican politician, businessman and owner of Mexico's largest sports betting company, Caliente. An eccentric and controversial personality, he served from December 2004 to February 2007 as the president of the municipality of Tijuana. He is the son of former Mexico City mayor Carlos Hank González and Guadalupe Rhon. He is also the stepfather of matador Alejandro Amaya.
Jorge Hank Rhon studied at the Alexander Von Humboldt German College and Industrial Engineering at the Universidad Anáhuac in the State of Mexico. In 1980 he founded the Grupo Taos, a company that operates pet stores and amusement parks of which he is the President of the Board and General Director. He moved to Tijuana in 1985 to manage the Agua Caliente Racetrack and formed the Grupo Caliente which includes the dog racing track, a Hotel, a Mall and a network of entertainment centers in 19 states of Mexico as well as 13 countries of Central, South America and Europe. The number of employees of the racetrack grew from 700 to close to 6,000. During his management Tijuana has hosted the Señorita México pageant, the World Boxing title fight between Julio César Chávez and Danilo Cabrera and from 1986 to 1988 the Caribe International Classic Horserace, considered the most important in Latin America. The Racetrack also hosts the Day of the Three Wise Men, Children's Day, Mother's Day where thousands of children and their mothers receive free food, gifts and an entertainment show since 1988. Hank also created the Cuauhtémoc Hank Foundation to give scholarships to students of all grades including studies in foreign schools.
Jorge Hank is also known as an animal lover, and trader. However, his purported love for animals has been fouled by reports that many of his animals are the result of smuggling. Jorge Hank says his favorite animal is women. In 1991, he was directly linked to a failed illicit deal for an endangered gorilla, but was never formally charged. His most famous customs run-in came in 1995, when he was caught carrying a suitcase full of ivory tusks, pearl vests and coats made from the skins of endangered ocelots, but Mr. Hank claimed that no law had been broken and the merchandise was legal. He was later acquitted.
Hank was linked by the media with various drug lords and money-laundering after the leak of National Drug Intelligence Center-drafted documents. However, the United States Attorney General at the time Janet Reno discredited such report and apologized to the Hank family. Newsweekly Zeta magazine runs a page on every edition asking Hank why his bodyguard at the time gunned down one of the Zeta journalists, Héctor Félix Miranda and asks the governor to find the intellectual author of his murder.
Hank won the Tijuana mayoral race of 2004, beating PAN candidate Jorge Ramos by a slim margin, thus ending 15 years of PAN government in Tijuana. His apparent charisma and high profile lifestyle, along with the support of the general population due to his perceived generosity and charity, may have assisted him in surmounting the political disadvantage.
After the elections, the PAN attempted to nullify the election due to several irregularities. Every claim by the PAN was rejected by the Baja California State Electoral Institute. The PAN then appealed before the Federal Electoral Tribunal which on November 14, 2004 rejected PAN claims to invalidate the election.
One of the claims was that Hank's campaign team distributed material criticizing Ramos, the PAN candidate. The PAN representatives presented pictures of multiple fliers in a car of an alleged PRI affiliate. The TRIFE found that there was no logical link between the fliers and the assumption that there were many more and to conclude this was not an isolated case. The PAN also claimed that the website www.expedientepublico.com published material against Ramos but the TRIFE concluded that in the absence of an author for the site it was unable to conclude the author was a member of the PRI or Hank himself.
The PAN also complained that Hank used religious paraphernalia during his campaign and provided a newspaper cutout of a journalist commenting that Hank made a public invitation to attend mass. The PAN did not provide any other proof of the alleged invitation to mass and the TRIFE found that the sole commentary did not prove Hank's invitation.
Another set of allegations were based on Hank's team exceeding budget limits set by the electoral body, including radio and television spots and this set an inequitable condition for Ramos. The TRIFE noted that the PAN had a longer exposure of TV spots than the PRI and that the Baja California electoral body did not find that an alleged excess in budget would create a disadvantageous position for the PAN candidate even in the most favorable scenario for the PAN. In addition to this, the PAN did not provide costs of the television spots, only the number of them. In regards to campaign events, the PAN provided 28 copies of newspaper cutouts that appeared to contradict each other and some of the cutouts describe the same event. The PAN also provided newspaper cutouts referring to a raffle of ten Volkswagen trucks but failed to demonstrate the Institutional Revolutionary Party paid for them and should be included in campaign budgets. Audio provided by the PAN also mentions not Hank but Samuel Ramos, the PRI candidate for Mexicali, not Tijuana. Radio and television spot costs estimates lacked name and signature of the person issuing them.
The PAN also accused Hank of having an alternative financing scheme through the Cuauhtémoc Hank Foundation based on Hank's own declarations. However, the PAN did not provide any proof of these asseverations and only assumed there was an alternative financing scheme. The PAN presented a newspaper cutout describing Hank as the director of the foundation but the TRIFE did not find this proved there was a financing scheme.
The PAN also alleged that Hank had broadcast television spots before his campaign started but did not provide dates or television station. The PAN also claimed a number of calls made to the emergency line 066 in which people mentioned the presence of the "red tide" (people wearing red shirts and hats near voting booths, characteristic of Hank's campaign), but the number of calls the PAN presented was higher than those reported and in most of those calls the caller failed to provide their last name and location of the voting booths. To support their claims the PAN provided pictures of these red-hat and red-shirt-wearing individuals but the pictures were in black and white.
The most notable infrastructure improvement in Tijuana during the Hank administration was the multi-million investment on an underpass at the Alba Roja intersection, just south of the 5 y 10 intersection. The 5 y 10 intersection is one of the most famous in the city and with the heaviest traffic. The investment was for a figure close to 45 million pesos, more than four million dollars.
On February 8, 2005 the Hank administration inaugurated the five million pesos Center of Communication, Control, Computing and Command (C4) that included 60 high definition cameras. In order the reduce kidnappings, a problem of Tijuana for many years, the municipal government started a program of installing GPS devices on the cars of potential victims. In 2007, a program of road safety cameras was introduced in Tijuana that issued speeding tickets in which some drivers received up to 800 tickets issued the same day, same time, and on the same location.
The Hank administration produced significant urban development but failed to significantly reduce crime In 2007, the Operation Tijuana of the Federal Government only momentarily reduced serious crimes and ordinary crimes increased 40% and it was detected corruption amongst the federal forces. The operation was then extended to the five municipalities of the state and dubbed Operation Baja California, per request of the governor Eugenio Elorduy Walther.
On February 20, 2007 Hank requested a license to leave his post as president. The license was approved by nine PRI representatives with six PAN representatives rejecting the license and one PRD representative abstaining from voting. Multiple billboards reporting Hank actions as president were put out after the annual report and PAN representative complained and offered to remove the PAN-sponsored radio spots on fighting radar camera-issued tickets.
At the end of 2006, Jorge Hank expressed his wishes to run a campaign for the 2007 Baja California state election. This flared up comments from PAN politicians saying that he would be violating the state's Antichapulin ("anti-grasshopper") law which prohibits a person of public office to "jump" from one charge to another without ending their current term.
In February 2007 he requested permission from leaving his post as municipal president to accept the candidacy for governor by the Alianza para que vivas mejor (The Alliance So You May live better), which was approved by his party's regidores and denied by the PAN regidores. The PAN also accused five district electoral council members of partiality towards Hank because they served as judges during his administration as president of Tijuana. The Federal Electoral Tribune rejected the complaint determining that the law does not have such restriction that would prevent these five lawyers from serving as judges and then as council members
On June 20, 2007, Baja California's state elections court voted 2 to 1 in favor of the validity of the so-called "anti grasshopper law" thus cancelling Hank's bid for Governor. He appealed the decision before the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which unanimously ruled to uphold his candidacy on July 7, holding that the state law contravened the electoral and political rights of the citizenry. Pending that decision, Hank was not a registered candidate and had to abstain from campaigning. The election date was Sunday August 5, 2007.
According to the Baja California's State Electoral Institute, Jorge Hank lost the election by 8 points (almost 55,000 votes) against Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan, PAN's candidate.
José de Jesús González Reyes
|Municipal president of Tijuana
In 1988, two of Hank's bodyguards were connected to the killing of Zeta magazine reporter Hector Felix Miranda. Zeta continues to publish a weekly public questioning of Hank for the murder. Hank has long been accused of working closely with the Tijuana drug cartel, though no formal charges have ever successfully been leveled against him.
Hank was first arrested in 1995 at the Mexico City airport on charges of smuggling. He was released on bail. The morning of June 4, 2011 Mexican military elements raided one of Hank Rhon's properties in Tijuana to search for drugs and weapons, seizing an arsenal of 88 guns and 9,000 rounds of ammunition (weapons normally used exclusively by the Mexican military) and Hank was taken into custody. While he denied knowledge of the weapons that were seized at his home, his wife María Elvia Amaya issued a contradictory statement saying the weapons were all authorised for use by security personnel on the compound.