Following the death of Jenni Rivera and six others in a plane crash near Monterrey, Mexico on Sunday, a complication in the shape of Mexican businessman Christian E. Esquino Nuñez has entered the picture.
ABC News were the first to reveal Nuñez’s links to the company that owns the Lear jet that carried Rivera’s group.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nuñez was “charged in 2005 for falsifying documents and may now be questioned by investigators.”
Court records detail Nuñez’s criminal record as including multiple convictions for falsifying aircraft records, drug-trafficking charges and the counterfeiting of government inspection stamps.
In addition, Univision Newsreports that the businessman also owes millions of dollars in state and federal taxes.
Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transportations identified the owner of the Lear Jet carrying Rivera’s party as a Nevada-based company called “Starwood Management.” In prior lawsuits filed against the company, Nuñez was listed as the head of “Starwood’s” business activities.
However, in a lawsuit filed by “Starwood” against the Drug Enforcement Agency in an aircraft retrieval case, the company said Nuñez was not part of “Starwood’s” personnel.
Reportedly, Nunez may now be required to answer questions from police and crash investigators from the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB).The NTSB has sent a team to Mexico to help the Mexican government in the Rivera investigation.
It’s believed those questions will center on possible causes of the crash.
On Monday, The Huffington Postreported that the 43-year-old Lear Jet carrying Rivera’s group had previously been involved in an accident in 2005. On that occasion, the jet hit a runway marker while attempting to land at an airstrip near Amarillo, Texas.
The report related to that 2005 incident revealed a fuel system malfunction caused one side of the plane to tilt out of balance.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nuñez and his alleged business associate Lance Z. Ricotta were convicted by a federal jury in 2005 on charges of “creating false and fictitious logbooks” for six aircraft that Nuñez bought from the Mexican government and sold on to US buyers.
“Forging the logbook is very dangerous given the lives of passengers [are] at risk,” aviation expert Hector Rotundo told Univision News.
Somewhat worryingly, in light of the Rivera crash, those 2005 court records reveal Nuñez altered flight viability and maintenance documents about the condition of the planes in order to sell them at inflated prices.
It should be noted that the jet in which Rivera’s group was travelling on Sunday was not included in the 2005 lawsuit.
Following charges in 2005, Nuñez was sentenced to 24 months in prison and later deported to Mexico. His rap sheet also includes a Florida indictment for drug trafficking charges and a prior 1993 charge of conspiring to conceal money from the Internal Revenue Service, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Worldwide tributes to Rivera continue in the wake of Sunday’s tragedy.