Monday 10 December 2012

Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez to testify on Friday

The owner of the jet in which U.S.-born singer Jenni Rivera died is scheduled to testify on Friday, December 14, with regard to the alleged plot to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi to Mexico in 2011.

(For an update on Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez's appearance at the hearing see Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez’s crash landing).

Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez is the proprietor of Starwood Management, an aircraft leasing company run out of Toluca, approximately 45 minutes west of Mexico City. Ms. Rivera was en route to Toluca from Monterrey on a Starwood-owned Lear Jet on December 9 when it went down near Iturbide, Nuevo León.  The plane, carrying Rivera and six other people – including the 78 year-old pilot – disintegrated upon impact. There were no survivors.

Esquino Núñez...A no-show in the past

Esquino Núñez, who has done time in a United States prison for aircraft fraud, has previously indicated to Mexico’s attorney General’s office, the PGR, that he was told of a plot to smuggle the son of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi  during a drive from Toluca to Mexico City in late September, 2011.

The alleged sources of this information, business partners Gregory Gillispie and Gabby de Cueto, who brokered an aircraft deal with Esquino Núñez, have denied the conversation ever took place.

Also set to testify is Esquino Núñez’s wife, Bertha Cruz de la Cruz. Bertha, formerly a good friend of Ms. de Cueto’s, claims to have received an email on August 25 2011 from de Cueto which included a passport image of Saadi Gaddafi and bogus names and birth information for his wife and two children.

At this time Ms. de Cueto is imprisoned in Chetumal, Mexico, along with the Canadian mediator Cynthia Vanier, whom the Mexican’s claim was the organizer of the alleged the plan.

La politica’s sources in Mexico indicate that the authorities are now on the hunt for Mr. Esquino Núñez, but have been unable to find him. The Lear Jet, manufactured in 1969, was one of the earliest ever made and has had at least a dozen owners. Given its age, the plane had a remarkably clean record: only one incident in 2005, in which an imbalance in fuel loads caused it to veer off a runway.

Mr. Esquino Núñez has had a rough go of it lately. In February 2010, Starwood and Wing Financial Management, another company owned by Esquino Núñez, filed for bankruptcy and sought protection from creditors. And in February of this year the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized one of Esquino Núñez’s  Gulfstreams in Tucson, Arizona. He is under suspicion of using the aircraft to transport narcotics. Witnesses were subpoenaed to testify against him. Esquino Núñez has fought back, filing suit in federal court in Tucson, demanding the return of the aircraft, valued at $ 1.5 million.

Esquino Núñez is scheduled to testify on Friday with his wife Bertha via video link from Mexico City.  He has been a no-show in the past. Presumably, Mr. Esquino Núñez will be asked to confirm that the alleged Gaddafi plot was mentioned to him, thus corroborating his statements to the PGR.

In the past Mr. Gillispie has claimed that Esquino Núñez has threatened to produce a tape recording of the alleged conversation. None has been provided. As far as La politica is aware, Mr. Esquino Núñez, who was imprisoned briefly in Mexico in March of this year, and then released, does not face any criminal charges in Mexico.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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1 comment:

  1. what??he own this plane that crashed with the singer? this whole story is just to much craziness