Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera had ties to one of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels before she was killed last month in a plane crash, a shocking report have claimed.
A witness reportedly came forward with claims that Jenni Rivera, known as “La Diva de la Banda”, was connected to the Beltran-Leyva cartel, which is regarded as one of the country’s most feared criminal syndicates.
The report by the Reforma newspaper also accused Rivera of performing at private events for the cartel and its one-time boss, Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez, who was arrested in 2010.
In one instance, La Barbie mortified Jenni Rivera when he kicked her as part of a practical joke, according to Reforma.
The witness statements made in 2009, also alleged that Jenni Rivera used cocaine and ecstasy.
The capture of Edgar Valdez – a Texas-born drug kingpin who got his nickname from his fair complexion – was seen as a major coup in the government’s desperate battle against drug traffickers.
Before he was caught, Edgar Valdez had been battling for control of the cartel after its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a 2009 December shootout with marines in Cuernavaca, a favorite weekend getaway south of Mexico City.
Jenni Rivera died on December 9 in a plane crash after she had performed in Monterrey, Mexico.
Also on Thursday, family members of the other plane crash casualties filed a lawsuit against the jet’s owners for “negligence” in letting the plane take off.
TMZ reported that the family of Jenni Rivera’s publicist Arturo Rivera, her lawyer Mario Macias Pacheco, Her stylist Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez and her makeup artist Jacobo Yebale filed the wrongful death suit against Starwood Management.
A similar lawsuit has also been filed against Jenni Rivera’s company.
Jenni Rivera was in the process of buying the doomed private jet from business executive Christian E. Esquino Nunez, who owns Starwood.
Christian E. Esquino Nunez is wanted for questioning regarding his ties to the plane, and has been convicted of drug-trafficking and counterfeiting government inspection stamps.
RadarOnline.com reports that Christian E. Esquino Nunez also has ties to a Tijuana drug cartel, and has also been accused of trying to sneak the son of late Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi into Mexico.
Court records show that Christian E. Esquino Nunez obtained details from aircrafts and forged details so as to mark up aircraft prices, thinking the models had fewer miles on them or had more maintenance work than they actually had.
Christian E. Esquino Nunez’s current whereabouts are unknown.
The plane carrying the superstar plunged from more than 28,000 feet and hit the ground in a nose-dive at more than 600 miles an hour, Mexico’s top transportation official says.
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s secretary of communications and transportation, revealed the first detailed accounts of the moments leading up to the crash that killed Jenni Rivera and six other people aboard their Learjet on Sunday in northern Mexico.
According to Gerardo Ruiz Esparza told Radio Formula the plane hit the ground 1.2 miles from where it began falling, and plummeted at a 45 degree angle.
“The plane practically nose-dived,” he said.
“The impact must have been terrible.”
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza did not offer any explanation of what may have caused the plane to plummet, saying only that: “The plane fell from an altitude of 28,000 feet … It may have hit a speed higher than 1,000 kph [621 mph].”
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said the pilot of the plane, Miguel Perez Soto, had a valid Mexican pilot’s license that would have expired in January.
Photos of a temporary pilot’s certificate issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and found amid the wreckage said that Miguel Perez Soto was 78.
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said there is no age limit for flying a civil aviation aircraft, though for commercial it’s 65.
Mexican authorities were performing DNA tests Tuesday on remains believed to belong to Jenni Rivera and the others killed when her plane went down in northern Mexico early Sunday morning.
Investigators said it would take days to piece together the wreckage of the plane carrying Jenni Rivera and find out why it went down.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to help investigate the crash of the Learjet 25, which disintegrated on impact in the rugged terrain in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico.
The 43-year-old California-born Jenni Rivera known as the “Diva de la Banda” died as her career peaked. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, and had branched out into acting and reality television.
Besides being a singer, Jenni Rivera appeared in the indie film Filly Brown, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, and was filming the third season of “I love Jenni”, which followed her as she shared special moments with her children and as she toured through Mexico and the United States.
The Learjet 25, number N345MC, with Rivera and her handlers aboard, was en route from Monterrey to Toluca, outside Mexico City, when it was reported missing about 10 minutes after takeoff.