2 guns in ex-Tijuana mayor's home tied to murders

June 10, 2011 - 8:43 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two of the weapons troops found in the home of the flamboyant former mayor of Tijuana are linked to homicides, prosecutors said Friday.

The federal attorney general's office did not specify whether the results of the ballistics tests will result in new criminal charges against 55-year-old Jorge Hank Rhon, who currently faces illegal weapons possession charges.

It is up to Baja California state to seek any prosecution for the homicides, the federal attorney general said in a press statement.

The two weapons — a .44-caliber revolver and a shotgun — are linked to two killings, said an official with the state attorney's general office who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly. The murders were not high-profile, he said.

A photograph of the revolver sent by the federal attorney general shows Hank Rhon's full name engraved on the barrel.

"The thing here is the family says they didn't know about the weapons and at least two (guns) have his name on them," said spokesman for the federal attorney general, Ricardo Najera.

Hank Rhon's spokesman, Francisco Ramirez, said he was unaware of the development and had no comment. The former mayor's attorney, Fernando Benitez, did not immediately respond to a phone message.

Soldiers raided Hank Rhon's home on Saturday and arrested him and 10 other men.

The raid yielded an arsenal of illegal weapons including 40 rifles, 48 handguns, 9,298 bullets, 70 ammunition clips and a gas grenade. Only 10 of those weapons were licensed.

Hank Rhon has previously denied any knowledge of the guns and his lawyer has said authorities did not have a search warrant for the raid.

His detention has outraged some Tijuana residents who suspect it is part of a political witchhunt during election season. Hank Rhon is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, while the federal government is National Action Party.

Mexico federal officials have denied the charges are politically motivated.

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Associated Press Eliot Spagat contributed to this report from San Diego.