The Seattle Times. Winner of Eight Pulitzer Prizes.

Tue, Jan 27, 2015




Updated Friday, December 14, 2012 at 08:01 PM

Owner of Rivera plane being investigated by DEA

The Associated Press

PHOENIX — The company that owns a luxury jet that crashed and killed Latin music star Jenni Rivera is under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the agency seized two of its planes this year as part of the probe.

DEA spokeswoman Lisa Webb Johnson confirmed the planes owned by Las Vegas-based Starwood Management were seized in Texas and Arizona, but she declined to discuss details.

The agency also has subpoenaed all the company’s records, including any correspondence it has had with a former Tijuana mayor who U.S. law-enforcement officials have long suspected has ties to organized crime.

In Southern California, meanwhile, fans of Rivera went to her Lakewood home to pay their respects, hours after her remains arrived back home. Balloons, pictures, flowers, handmade posters and candles surrounded a small tree outside the house. Fans gathered at the curb, some adding to the collection of items on the memorial and taking pictures.

Other fans drove past, playing and singing Rivera’s music, pausing by the site to take photos.

Rivera, 43, and six others were killed when the jet they were flying in crashed early Sunday in Mexico.

The man widely believed to be behind the Starwood Management aviation company is an ex-convict named Christian Esquino, 50, who has a long and checkered legal past.

Corporate records list his sister-in-law as the company’s only officer, but insurance companies that cover some of the firm’s planes say in court documents that the woman is merely a front and that Esquino is the one in charge.

Esquino’s legal woes date back decades. He pleaded guilty to a fraud charge that stemmed from a major drug investigation in Florida in the early 1990s and most recently was sentenced to two years in federal prison in a California aviation-fraud case. Esquino, a Mexican citizen, was deported upon his release.

Rivera died at the peak of her career when the plane she was traveling in nose-dived into the ground while flying from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey to the central city of Toluca Sunday.

It remained unclear what caused the crash and why Rivera was on Esquino’s plane. The 78-year-old pilot and five other people were also killed. Esquino was not on the plane.

Material from the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.

The Associated Press
Fans look at the memorial display Friday outside the home of Jenni Rivera in Lakewood, Calif.


Top News arrow

Latest News arrow

Local arrow

Nation & World arrow

Business & Technology arrow

Editorial & Opinion arrow

Sports arrow

Entertainment arrow

Living arrow

Travel & Outdoors arrow

Obituaries arrow


Jobs arrow

Autos arrow

Homes & Rentals arrow

More Classifieds arrow