Owner of Mexican Star's Death Plane in DEA Probe

By McCarton Ackerman 12/14/12

The criminal history of Christian E. Esquino Nuñez suggests that boarding one of his planes was a bad idea.

jenni rivera.jpg
Rivera had been looking to buy the
"well-maintained" plane that killed her.
Photo via

The story of the plane crash that killed Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera last week has taken a druggy twist. The 43-year-old songstress, who sold 15 million albums worldwide and won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards this year, died, along with the five other people on board, when the small plane crashed into the mountains of northern Mexico. It happened in the early morning hours last Sunday, just after Rivera had performed a concert for several thousand fans in Monterrey. Now the owner of the plane, Mexican businessman Christian E. Esquino Nuñez, has been revealed to be at the center of a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation. DEA officials have reportedly subpoenaed documents from his company, Starwood Management, pertaining to any ties Nuñez might have had with a former Tijuana mayor suspected of running an organized crime operation. In addition, the DEA confirmed they had already seized two of the company's planes earlier this year. Nuñez's crimes are many: he's been indicted on drug charges connected with a Florida crime ring, convicted of falsifying aircraft records and counterfeiting government inspection stamps, and recently was sentenced to two years in federal prison for aviation fraud. He said earlier this week that Rivera was actually looking to buy the very plane that ultimately led to her death—insisting that it was well-maintained.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.