136Text of $10 Million Threat Letter to El Andar Mag
- Dec 25, 2000In 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
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
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
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