Amy Beddows 5:26 p.m., June 18
How is the alleged smuggling plot of Saadi Gaddafi linked to the recent airplane crash that killed Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera?
A plane that crashed on its way to Toluca Mexico killing Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera and six other people is alleged to be owned by former Coronado resident Christian Eduardo Esquino-Nunez. Esquino-Nunez has been in the public eye lately because he is scheduled to testify in Mexico December 14 in a case involving the alleged smuggling of Saadi Gaddafi into Mexico.
It is believed that Esquino-Nunez plans to testify against Cynthia Vanier, a Canadian, and Gabriela Davila Huerta, a Mexican national who resided in Coronado last year. Both women are awaiting trial in Chetumal Mexico for charges related to the alleged smuggling.
The Lear jet that crashed was registered to Starwood Management LLC of Las Vegas. The company is reportedly owned by Esquino-Nunez. The jet carrying Rivera is reported to have "disintegrated upon impact."
Esquino-Nunez "has done time in a United States prison for aircraft fraud" states the international blog La Politica es la politica, which has followed the intricacies of the alleged smuggling since its inception.
La Poltica reported that "On January 24, 2005 the Southern District Court of California convicted him [Esquino] of conspiracy to commit fraud involving an aircraft. Mr. Esquino had pled guilty, and was sentenced to two years in prison."
In March 2012 the San Diego Reader interviewed Gregory Gillispie who is linked to the smuggling plot because he contracted the plane which the Mexican government alleges was ultimately intended to fly Gaddafi into Mexico.
During the interview Gillispie intimated that the background of [Christian] Esquino-Nunez will undercut the veracity of his testimony:
"Christian had been investigated in the United States for being associated with the Felix Arellano cartel and for buying old airplanes from the Mexican Department of Agriculture, repainting them, creating bogus logs, and reselling the planes to people in the United States. One plane crashed. Seized up. So they arrested Christian, and he ended up spending two years in Lompoc...He now operates a jet-sevice business out of Toluca, where the executive jets land for Mexico City."
In June of this year Gillispie provided the Reader with an email exchange that Gillispie alleges is between himself and Esquino-Nunez and was copied to Stewart Bell a journalist at the Canadian National Post in April 2012.
According to the email provided, Esquino wrote: "I'm out of jail now. [He had initially been held in relation to the alleged smuggling plot.] I've been reading the news interviews that you've been giving to the media and how you've handled them. A little piece of information that might pursuade you to keep your mouth shut and prove to everyone that you're a liar: I secretly recorded you and Gabby [Gabriela Davila Huerta] for the Mexican government on the ride from Toluca airport to the St. Regis talking about the fact that we're going to fly Saadi Gadafi and other members of their clan to Mexico. Your voice is pretty clear and unique and your face looks pretty good on the video..."
Gillispie writes back: "...As for your secret recordings for the Mexican Government. I hope that you were clever enough to have recorded any and all conversations we had...it would prove conclusively that I never asked you to fly Saadi Gadafhi or his clan to Mexico...Additionally, all the information from my sources down in Mexico who are very knowledgeable on what evidence the Mexican prosecutors have...indicate there is no secretly recorded tapes from you..."
So the international drama continues to play out and intertwine on more than one level: the trial that is about to start in Mexico and the tragic plane crash near Toluca.
On December 10 the Associated Press added more to the background of Starwood Management:
"The company is also subject of a federal lawsuit in Nevada. QBE Insurance Corp. alleges that a Starwood aircraft was ordered seized by the DEA when it landed in McAllen, Texas, from Mexico on Sept. 12.
"The New York-based insurer sued in October to rescind coverage for the Hawker 700 jet. Starwood, in a court filing, acknowledged that the DEA was involved in the seizure of the aircraft...Nevada secretary of state records list only one Starwood officer--Norma Gonzalez--but QBE alleges that the company is owned and managed by Ed Nunez, who according to the lawsuit, is also known as Christian Esquino and had a long criminal history."
There is still one more curious local connection. A tipster forwarded a June article from Aviation Week. The first paragraph reads: "A new aircraft leasing and finance company in Latin America plans to launch operations within 30 days targeting small and mid-size carriers. It says it is willing to take on the high-risk airlines by acquiring relatively inexpensive older planes and offering non-traditional financing."
The article states the aircraft finance company is Skylease Holdings and that the company founder was Luis Evia Montiel. The online source Bizapedia links Luis Evia of Bonita, California and Christian Esquino of Coronado, California to a defunct business called Argentum Air Corporation started in l997.