Mexican authorities have released a report citing the causes of the plane crash that took the life of banda singer Jenni Rivera and six others last year. A report that will probably lead to a focus on aviation executive Christian Esquino Nunez, who has been in prison for aviation fraud and since deported.
The General Civil Aviation Administration cited a “series of factors,” that included the age of the plane and the age of the pilots, as cause for the December 9 crash in Iturbide, Mexico. The exact cause of the crash cannot be pinpointed since the plane was demolished upon impact with few large portions of the plane left to examine.
The famed banda singer was traveling with her publicist, Arturo Rivera, stylist Jorge Sanchez Vasquez, her attorney Mario Macias Pacheco and makeup artist Jacobo Yebale. The private plane left Monterrey en route to Toluca, after Rivera finished performing at The Arena around 3:30 a.m. and lost contact with air control 15 minutes later.
The report indicates the plane experienced a “sudden and abrupt lack of control,” resulting in a deadly 28,000 feet vertical drop in 30 seconds. The report did definitely exclude weather or an explosion as causes of the crash.
The report indicates that the more than 40-year-old Learjet had previous mechanical issues that were not recorded and was being flown by a pilot that was too old and another too inexperienced to fly.
Miguel Perez Soto was 78-years-old and not licensed in the U.S. to fly passengers and too old, according to Mexican regulations, to be flying the type of plane he was piloting that night. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old co-pilot, Alejandro Torres, was not licensed to fly the plane outside the U.S.
Las Vegas based Starwood Management owned the plane and is facing multiple wrongful death lawsuits including one from Rivera’s estate. A Starwood executive, Christian Esquino Nunez, served two years in a U.S. prison for falsifying the maintenance records of planes he bought and sold to unsuspecting pilots. He was deported to Mexico after he served his two-year sentence. Nunez would buys planes from the Mexican government and sell the planes across the border which is when he came under U.S. scrutiny. He was prosecuted in 2005 in California. Prior to his 2005 conviction Nunez plead guilty in Florida to drug trafficking, providing planes to narcos to move coke between Florida and Colombia.
Regardless of his arrests and deportation he remained a key executive at Starwood at the time of the crash. Some reports indicate he was the individual that Rivera’s people made contact with about leasing the plane.
Allegedly Rivera was contemplating buying the 1969 Learjet and was offered free demo rides when the plane crashed.