Family of Mexican singer Jenni Rivera announces funeral plans and public memorial as investigation focuses on plane and owners

a314A week has passed since the crash of the Lear 25 near Iturbide Nuevo Leon that took the life of Mexican superstat Jenni Rivera, and 6 others including the pilots who were identified as Miguel Perez and Alejandro Torres.

The bodies, what remains of them, have been recovered, identified and returned to the families. Jenni’s brothers returned with their sisters remains to Long Beach Thursday night after a difficult 4 days in Monterrey waiting for DNA confirmation of her death. Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in the coming week and are expected to be open to the public. The family has suggested the services may be streamed across the internet.

The 43-year-old California-born Rivera died at the peak of her career when the plane she was traveling in nose-dived into the ground while flying from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey to the central city of Toluca early Sunday morning. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, and had branched out into acting and reality television.

Starwood Management, Owner Of Learjet 25, Under Investigation By DEA

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The Lear 25 that crashed with Jenni Rivera on board.

It began shortly after 3 a.m. last Sunday, when Rivera and her entourage boarded the Learjet 25, which took off under clear skies. The jet headed south, toward Toluca, west of Mexico City; there, Rivera had been scheduled to tape the television show “La Voz” — Mexico’s version of “The Voice” — on which she was a judge.

The plane, built in 1969 and registered to Starwood Management of Las Vegas Nevada, reached 11,000 feet. But 10 minutes and 62 miles into the flight, air traffic controllers lost contact with its pilots, according to Mexican authorities. The jet crashed outside Iturbide, a remote city that straddles one of the few roads bisecting Mexico’s Sierra de Arteaga National Park.

Others from the Civil Aeronautics Ministry are claiming the jet made a vertical plunge from 29,000 feet augering into the ground. We reported initially that it appeared the jet had flown into the side of the mountain where the wreckage was found. We based that on the live video feeds we were watching of the rescue efforts on Monday. At this point though, it’s all speculation. The plane was not equipped with a flight data recorder or “Black box” as is required on commercial airliners.

[pullquote_right]RIVERA FUNERAL PLANS ANNOUNCED

A public memorial will be held Wednesday for singer Jenni Rivera, who died recently in a plane crash in Mexico, her family said.

The memorial — called a “Celestial Graduation” by her family — will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk and led by Minister Pedro Rivera Jr.

Rivera’s children asked that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation, in addition to a single white rose.

The family has asked for privacy and discretion for a private burial that will be held separately.

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How Rivera and her entourage ended up on the plane is still under speculation. Some are saying that Rivera was interested in buying the jet which was offered for $250,000.00 and the ride from Monterrey to Toluca was to be a test flight. Mexican aviation authorities however said such a use of the plane was illegal under Mexican law.

The man widely believed to be behind the aviation company is an ex-convict named Christian Esquino, 50, who has a long and checkered legal past. Corporate records list his sister-in-law as the company’s only officer, but insurance companies that cover some of the firm’s planes say in court documents that the woman is merely a front and that Esquino is the one in charge.

Esquino’s legal woes date back decades. He pleaded guilty to a fraud charge that stemmed from a major drug investigation in Florida in the early 1990s and most recently was sentenced to two years in federal prison in a California aviation fraud case. Esquino, a Mexican citizen, was deported upon his release. Esquino and various other companies he has either been involved with or owns have also been sued for failing to pay millions of dollars in loans, according to court records.

Esquino disputed reports that he owns Starwood, maintaining that he is merely the company’s operations manager “with the expertise.”

In February this year, a Gulfstream G-1159A plane the government valued at $500,000 was seized by the U.S. Marshals Service on behalf of the DEA after landing in Tucson on a flight that originated in Mexico

Four months later, the DEA subpoenaed all of Starwood’s records dating to Dec. 13, 2007, including federal and state income tax documents, bank deposit information, records on all company assets and sales, and the entity’s relationship with Esquino and more than a dozen companies and individuals, including former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank-Rhon, a gambling mogul and a member of one of Mexico’s most powerful families. U.S. law enforcement officials have long suspected Hank-Rhon is tied to organized crime but no allegations have been proven. He has consistently denied any criminal involvement.

There has also been suggestions there were explosives on board the plane.

FOCUS ON THE PILOT AND AT WHAT AGE IS “TOO OLD”

pilots_licenseThere is a focus on the pilot of the Lear 25, Miguel Perez who at 78, was 14 years past the limit allowed for US commercial pilots.

Papers found amid the wreckage of the craft showed that pilot Miguel Perez Soto was born on Jan. 21, 1934, and had a restricted license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority that allowed him only to fly by day and not by instruments.

“Not valid for the carriage of persons or property for corporation or hire or for agricultural aircraft,” the FAA document says.

Turns out that Perez Soto also had a Mexican license that did permit him to fly at night and carry passengers and Perez Soto of course was flying in Mexican airspace. Not much is known about the co-pilot, identified as Alenjandro Torres of Veracruz. Perez Soto however had 24,000 hours of flight time.

GRAPHIC VIDEOS OF SINGERS BODY FLOOD INTERNET – FAMILY RIGHTEOUSLY OUTRAGED

I guess it’s human nature and I’m not at all surprised, considering while watching the video feeds from the crash site last week, some of the rescue personnel were making no effort to hide their activities with their smartphones, recording and photographing the crash scene. Shortly thereafter, images begin to emerge onto the internet of the crash site, personal clothing and documents.

The Rivera family is outraged, as anyone would be that these images have hit the internet and are doing what they can to have them removed. And now, news coming out of Nuevo Leon is that two of the first responders, both police officers have been arrested after articles belonging to the victims, including the photographs, were found in their homes.

Avila Moreno, 23 and Mario Alberto Garcia Pacheco, 24, have been arrested on suspicion of stealing unspecified items from the scene of the plane crash

he Nuevo Leon state government says authorities found images of the scene on the BlackBerry cell phone of Luis Antonio Avila Moreno, 23, on Dec. 11, which contained a number of photos of the crash site including images of body parts and personal documents.

Police are trying to determine how the Mexican media got photographs of the secured site, including images of body parts and personal documents.
Investigators searched the homes of the officers who secured the crash site and found victims’ belongings in two. The government said Thursday it then arrested the officers.

We’ve seen the photos in question and they are indeed graphic and at this time, out of respect for the families, have no intention of displaying them on Mexico Trucker Online.
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