Monday, June 6, 2011
MEXICO: Xolos owner's arrest clouds future
By Scott French
What impact, if any, former Tijuana mayor Jorge Hank Rhon's arrest Saturday on weapons charges will have on Club Tijuana and its first season in Mexico's top-tier Primera Division is uncertain.
Hank, 55, the billionaire owner of the Xoloitzcuintles and the Caliente casino/dog track complex in Tijuana that houses the club's stadium, was arrested in an early-morning raid by soldiers as part of an investigation into organized crime, authorities told media in Mexico.
Hank and 10 others were taken into cutody after authorities said they had recovered 98 weapons -- some of them military-grade -- nearly 10,000 bullets and a gas grenade from Hank's home complex south of the border.
Federacion Mexicana de Futbol regulations could lead to Club Tijuana's ouster from the Mexican league if Hank is convicted.
The Xolos, who were promoted last month from the second-tier Liga de Ascenso, are moving forward with preparations for their first season in the Primera Division. The club will stage a four-team preseason event July 6 and 9 at Estadio Caliente. CONCACAF Champions League titlist Monterrey and fellow Primera clubs Puebla and San Luis will participate.
Club Tijuana officials have proposed playing its game against giants Club America and Guadalajara at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Hank, the son of former Mexico City mayor Carlos Hank Gonzalez -- a legend in former ruling party Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) -- was mayor of Tijuana in 2004-07 and an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Baja California in 2007. His holdings include the Caliente bookmaking shops across Mexico, which also has lent controversy to the Xolos' ascension to the top league.
Hank's supporters have charged that the investigation and arrest are politically motivated and are meant to prevent Hank's involvement in next year's presidential election and from running in the 2013 Baja gubernatorial election.
Hank's son, Jorge Alberto Hank Inzunza, just in his mid-20s, is Club Tijuana's president.