DEA Target: Jenni Rivera Plane Owner

Christian Esquino was allegedly involved in drug smuggling ring in the '90s

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 14, 2012 9:46 AM CST

(Newser) – The investigation into the shady company that owned the Learjet carrying Jenni Rivera continues: The DEA confirmed yesterday that two other planes owned by Starwood Management were seized earlier this year in Texas and Arizona as part of a probe into the company. Both flights originated in Mexico. The DEA has also subpoenaed all of Starwood's records, including communications between the company and a former Tijuana mayor believed to be linked to organized crime, the AP reports.

Christian Esquino, the ex-convict believed to be running Starwood, has more problems in his past than just falsifying plane safety records: In the 1990s, he pleaded guilty to a fraud charge stemming from a major Florida drug investigation in which he and 12 other suspects were accused of plotting to sell more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine. "It was huge," recalls the former assistant US attorney who handled the case. "This was an international smuggling group." Rivera's remains were returned to California last night, accompanied by three of her brothers, the AP reports.

In this March 8, 2012, file photo, Mexican-American singer and reality TV star Jenni Rivera speaks during an interview in Los Angeles.
In this March 8, 2012, file photo, Mexican-American singer and reality TV star Jenni Rivera speaks during an interview in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, file)
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