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136Text of $10 Million Threat Letter to El Andar Mag

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  • Al Giordano
    Dec 25, 2000
    • 0 Attachment
      In 1999, lawyers for the Laredo National Bank,
      controlled by the Hank family of Mexico, sent
      this letter to the California magazine El Andar
      threatening a lawsuit and demanding $10 million
      in damages.

      The story of the Hank family's efforts to chill
      free speech and investigative reporting regarding
      government reports on their narco activities
      goes back years, and originated with Akin Gump
      representing the Hanks.

      The story of how Akin Gump no longer came to
      represent the Hanks is even more interesting
      and will be vetted fully in this exhibit.

      Here is the letter-threat to El Andar...

      Letter from Davis, Cedillo and Mendoza lawfirm
      Harte-Hanks Tower, suite 400
      200 Concord Plaza San Antonio, Texas 78215
      Tel. (210) 822-8666 Fax (210) 822-1151

      September 24, 1999

      VIA TELECOPY NO. 831/457-8354

      Julia Reynolds
      Editor El Andar Publications P.O.Box 7745 Santa Cruz, CA 95060

      Dear Ms. Reynolds:

      This firm represents Laredo National Bank of Texas in the matter of
      certain false and defamatory statements about the bank that
      appeared in a press release titled "White House `Coffee' Had Line
      To Mexican Drug Family" authored and published by El Andar, which
      was circulated worldwide. The character of these legally offensive
      and actionable statements demonstrates conclusively that this
      article was published with a reckless regard for the truth. By this
      letter I am affording you the opportunity to withdraw the press
      release from circulation and publish promptly in a conspicuous
      manner a full and complete retraction of the following identified
      statements accompanied by a meaningful apology to my client.

      Your press release falsely stated: "Gary Jacobs, president of
      Laredo National Bank, attended one of the now-famous `White House
      Coffees' on August 23, 1996, at a time when Laredo National was a
      focus of a Drug Enforcement Agency probe. In 1995, the DEA had
      begun Operation Casablanca, an investigation into money-laundering
      operations in the U.S. and Mexico. Laredo National was target of
      that investigation." Your statement is patently false. Laredo
      National Bank has never been a target of that or any other money
      laundering investigation.

      Your press release also falsely stated that "Carlos Hank Rhon, who
      owns a majority interest in Laredo National Bank, is the son of
      Carlos Hank Gonzales (sic), a powerful Mexican businessman who has
      been linked to major drug cartels. The Hank family has been the
      subject of repeated investigation by the Department of Justice, the
      Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Reserve in connection with
      suspected drug and money-laundering activities in Mexico and the
      U.S." All of your information is plainly false and misleading.

      The false and defamatory statements about Laredo National Bank, its
      president and its owners have caused obvious damage to their
      reputation. It is imperative that you move immediately to cure the
      harm you have caused by publishing this false information. Under
      the circumstances presented, I demand that you comply with the

      1. Immediately withdraw the press release from circulation and
      publish promptly a prominent retraction and apology in the following

      "On August 30, 1999, El Andar Publications, published a press release
      about Laredo Nationasl Bank and Carlos Hank Rhon, a majority owner
      of the bank. The article falsely and incorrectly stated that the
      bank was a target of a money-laundering investigation and that the
      Hank family has been the subject of repeated investigations
      involving drug and money laundering activities.

      Laredo National Bank is not and has never been declared a target of
      any investigation for drug or money-laundering related activities.
      Additionally, the Hank family has never been accused of any
      wrongdoing involving drug or money-laundering activities. El Andar
      apologizes for its errors and for any inconvenience or prejudice
      our press release may have caused Laredo National Bank, its
      customers, or the Hank family.

      2. Pay US $10,000,000 to Laredo National Bank to offset the
      legal fees and expenses incurred in prosecuting your false and
      defamatory article worldwide.

      3. Agree to contact me in the future prior to your publication
      of any accusation of wrongdoing about Laredo National Bank, its
      president, owners or customers to afford us the opportunity to
      correct any misleading information.

      Kindly inform me by Tuesday, September 28, 1999, whether you will
      comply with our demands. If you do so, my clients agree to assess
      whether any further redress is necessary. Should you elect to do
      nothing, you act at your peril.

      Verty truly yours,

      Ricardo G. Cedillo

      Cc: Gary G. Jacobs
      Richard W. Beckler
      Robert D. Siegfried