Businessman Linked to Plane Carrying Jenni Rivera: 'It Was in Perfect Condition'
Christian Esquino says business with Jenni Rivera was done through a middleman.
Dec. 17, 2012— -- Christian Esquino Nuñez, the alleged owner of the plane in which the Mexican singer Jenni Rivera died, gave his first television interview to Univision News.
"The plane was in perfect conditions to fly," Esquino Nuñez said about the plane involved in Rivera's death. "Its maintenance was up to date. Mechanics-wise, it was in good condition."
Regarding his criminal conviction for falsifying flight logs, Esquino Nuñez told Univision News that what happened before has no bearing on the recent accident.
He was interviewed on December 14 when he was leaving a federal court in Mexico City, where he is testifying in the case of a failed attempt of smuggling one of Gaddafi's sons from Libya to Mexico in one of his planes.
"As far as I know, there is absolutely no controversy about the plane's papers," he said, referring to the aircraft that crashed on December 9 while traveling between Monterrey and Toluca in Mexico, killing Rivera and six others.
Esquino Nuñez spoke to Univision News about the business agreement he had with "La Diva de la Banda." She wasn't his friend, he said.
Esquino Nuñez confirmed that Rivera was flying the Learjet 25 as a trial before deciding whether to purchase it, as had been previously announced by Mexico's Department of Communications and Transportation.
"This [the trial agreement for possible purchase] was made through a middleman," he told Univision News. "Everything was handled through a middleman who was talking to Jenni Rivera's lawyer, who unfortunately was also in the plane."
The Mexican businessman, who was raised in California, insists that he is not the proprietor of Starwood Management, the company that owns the plane in which Jenni Rivera died. However, two civil lawsuits filed this year in federal court in Nevada by two insurance companies list the Mexican businessman as signee of the insurance policies for several of Starwood's aircraft.
Esquino Nuñez does acknowledge that the person under whose name the company is registered is one of his relatives.
"It belongs to Norma González, who is my sister-in-law," he told Univision News.
Concerning the various lawsuits that have been filed against him in the United States, including money owed to norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, Esquino said that the plaintiffs are lying.
"It's not true," he told Univision News, "Starwood Management has never tried to sell a plane to Los Tigres del Norte. The company for which I used to work had set up a deal to sell a plane to them. They had given us a deposit and they didn't pay the total price, [so] they lost the deposit."
As Univision News has reported, the DEA has investigated Esquino Nuñez on several occasions. The DEA first looked into Esquino's activities in 1990, when he was accused of supplying an airplane for a cocaine trafficking operation between Colombia and Miami. Later on, from 2001 to 2002, the agency caught up with him once again, in this case for falsifying the flight logs of Mexican aircrafts sold in the United States. Today, Esquino is the target of a new DEA investigation. As part of it, the agency has seized two of Starwood Management's planes in the course of 2012.
Esquino's legal troubles are not limited to the United States. He is currently facing a lawsuit from Mexico's Department of Agriculture for an alleged breach of contract.