Jenni Rivera’s Plane: Was It Shot Down? Accident or Murder?

By Louie Fecou
Published: December 7, 2022 (Last updated: January 22, 2024)
Jenni Rivera (2010) at the Latin Grammy Awards (Image Credit to

In 2012, a Learjet had taken off from Monterey, Mexico. The plane was heading for Toluca, but unexpectedly it would never reach the destination, and all seven people on board would die in the crash. One of the passengers was Jenni Rivera, and since the horrific incident, there has been speculation about the crash, and whether it was shot down. Many questions were asked about what happened to the plane, and whether Jenni Rivera was targeted, which would make it a murder, not an accident.

Was Jenni Rivera’s plane shot down?

In 2016 a judge ruled that the owners of the plane were ultimately responsible and ordered the company to pay 70 million dollars to cover the lawsuits issued by the relatives of the people on board. There seems to be no evidence that the plane was shot down.

Witnesses say that it fell from the sky in an almost vertical dive from around 28,000 feet, so it must have been falling at around 1000 kph. The 78-year-old pilot had a valid license, although it was due to run out in a few months’ time. The plane was only in the air for 10 minutes. There was a thorough investigation into the reason why the plane crashed, and the first exam ruled out some of the more common causes, such as fire, explosion, or the weather.

It was noted that the plane was 43 years old, and there may have been a problem with the horizontal stabilizer. Further information about the craft revealed that in 2005 it had been damaged in an accident when it struck a runway marker. The black box was missing from the wreckage, again a fact that would lead to theories, but it appears that the plane just lost control, and the two pilots on board, one aged 78 and another very young pilot, who was not allowed to fly outside the US, could not control what was happening.

Image of the Jenni Rivera Plane Crash Rescue Team

Plane Crash Rescue Team at the site where Jenni Rivera’s Plane Crashed (Image Credit to CBS News)

Who is Jenni Rivera?

Dolores Janney “Jenni” Rivera Saavedra was an American singer born in 1969 in California. Her specialty was in Regional Mexican music, such as Banda, and she was regarded very highly in the music community.

Since 1992, Jenni recorded music, often looking into relationships, society, and cheating partners, and worked hard to grow a following. It would not be till 2005 and the release of her album Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida, that she would receive commercial success in both the US and Mexico.

With the style of music known as Banda being a mostly male-dominated genre, she received backlash for performing in this style, and as a result, would often not be booked due to the controversy, but a single release that received a lot of radio airplay, and numerous awards for her work only helped boost her popularity and profile.

By 2010 she had her own reality TV show, was selling her own branded items, and appeared in her first film, Filly Brown. As well as singing acting and TV and film work, Jenni was always outspoken about her beliefs and became the spokesperson for The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In interviews, she had spoken openly of her own abuse.

Who was Jenni Rivera kidnapped by?

In the aftermath of this terrible incident, it would not be long before fans and the media would ask questions, leading to many claims about Jenni and her death. One of the most prolific theories surrounded Jenni’s alleged dealings with drug cartels, and many believe that she had been kidnapped by one such cartel.

The story is fuelled by other incidents where cartels have murdered prominent musicians and performers in the past. Jenni would indeed receive threats, and two years prior to her death, it is reported that she would receive a note saying, “You’re the next to die.”

The idea that Jennie was kidnapped by a cartel after the plane crash and another body was left in her place seems to have no real facts behind it. Her remains were eventually identified. Previously at a press conference, her grieving mother prayed that Jenni was still alive and alluded that she may have been kidnapped. an idea that found traction on social media but was soon proved wrong.

Was Jenni Rivera part of the cartels?

There are conflicting reports about Jenni’s involvement with cartels. However, a damning article in a Mexican newspaper would report that the singer and businesswoman had ties with the Beltran Leyva Cartel, an association that would arise from her performing at their private parties.

The story would go on to also mention more links with other cartels and it alleged that Jenni was in the process of buying a plane from business executive Christian E. Esquino Nunez. The plane, though, was, however, part of an investigation into Nunez, and it was said that he had been convicted of drug trafficking and counterfeiting. An online report also suggests Nunez was linked to an operation that consisted of illegally smuggling the son of the deceased dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi into Mexico. At the time of writing, Nunez’s whereabouts are unknown. It would seem that Jenni had moved in some circles that involved cartels, but this situation may have arisen from her performing for them in a business relationship.

Did Jenni Rivera sing about her death?

Jenni Rivera sang a song called “Cuando muere una dama,” which translates to “When a Lady Dies,” and many people make the connection between her song to her own tragic death. The song is from an album called “Que me entierren con la banda,” and describes a funeral and how people should celebrate her death. The song has become an absolute favorite for her fans, and some assume that Jenni knew of her impending death.

What is the documentary ‘Who Killed Jenni Rivera’ about?

This documentary is a study of the life of Jenni, exploring her professional rise to fame and then taking a deep dive into the events that led to her death on the plane. Included in the Peacock documentary will be interviews and anecdotes from people who knew Jenni and worked closely with her. The series consists of three episodes and asks the question, was Jenni’s death an accident or murder?

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