DEA probes owner of plane in singer's crash
Company's planes seized earlier this year
The Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating the company that owned the plane that crashed this week, killing music star Jenni Rivera and six others, the agency said Friday.
Court records that surfaced after Sunday's fatal crash revealed that the aviation company, Starwood Management, had two planes authorities seized this year.
The company remains under investigation, DEA spokeswoman Lisa Webb Johnson said.
The planes in question were seized in February in Arizona and in September in Texas.
The DEA declined to give further details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Some indications of why the planes were seized became known through court records.
Insurance firms QBE and Commerce & Industry Insurance Co. filed suits this year seeking to rescind contracts with Starwood Management, alleging falsehoods.
The lawsuits against Starwood focus on the man who signed the insurance paperwork on its behalf, Ed Nunez. Nunez is also known as Christian Esquino, the insurance companies allege, a businessman with a criminal record that includes falsifying airplane records.
The DEA confirmed Friday the link between Starwood and Esquino.
In another court action, Starwood distances itself from Esquino and denies he is the owner.
Starwood had one plane, a Hawker 700, confiscated by U.S. marshals acting on behalf of the DEA in September once it landed in McAllen, Texas, after arriving from Mexico, according to one of the insurance company lawsuits.
In February, marshals seized a Starwood Gulfstream G-1159A in Tucson, Arizona, that lawsuit said.
Starwood or its representatives have not responded to repeated requests for comments about the plane that crashed with Rivera or the DEA investigations.
Rivera was a Mexican-American star with a rising cross-border appeal. She sang traditional Mexican ballads and was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2002 in the category of best banda album.
Born in Long Beach, California, to Mexican immigrant parents, Rivera, 43, released her debut album in 1999.
In October, People en Espanol named Rivera to its list of the 25 most powerful women.
The singer was also known for her tumultuous personal life. She was a single mom at age 15, was married three times and the mother of five, her website said.
Rivera's "I Love Jenni" reality show began airing on Telemundo's mun2 network last year.
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