Mexican prosecutor: freeing of ex-mayor worrisome

June 15, 2011 - 8:26 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The dismissal of charges against a former Tijuana mayor allegedly caught with 88 guns at his home could set a worrisome example of allowing illegal weapons possession to go unpunished, Mexico's top organized crime prosecutor said Wednesday.

Assistant Attorney General Patricia Bugarin said the judge who freed gambling magnate and former mayor Jorge Hank Rhon acted with "bias and subjectivity" in dismissing the federal charges.

The ruling "could result in impunity for crimes like illegal weapons possession," Bugarin said, noting the prosecution has appealed the Tuesday ruling.

Bugarin said the judge may have erred in accepting as evidence surveillance camera tapes from Hank Rhon's luxurious home, despite the fact the tapes may have been edited.

The weapons were found in a warrantless raid by soldiers on the home last week, and the judge ruled Tuesday that the soldiers' description of that raid didn't hold up to scrutiny.

Hank Rhon was also freed Tuesday from state custody after a judge refused a request by Baja California state prosecutors to hold him in a homicide investigation.

State officials said Wednesday that he continues to be a subject of that probe, because one of the guns found at his home was linked to three killings.