MONTERREY, Mexico – The remains of Mexican-American music star Jenni Rivera were headed back to the United States after being identified by her family, state officials said Thursday.
The Nuevo Leon state government announced that it had released the remains. State security spokesman Jorge Domene said earlier in the day that Rivera’s family had made a positive identification but there would a delay of several days while DNA tests were completed. The government did not immediately explain the discrepancy.
Officials also said that two state police officers had been arrested on suspicion of stealing unspecified items from the scene of the plane crash that killed Rivera Sunday.
The Nuevo Leon state government said authorities also found images of the scene on the smartphone of one of the officers while trying to determine how the Mexican media obtained 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 homes. The government said it then arrested the two officers.
The officers belong to a new state police force designed to be more effective and less corrupt.
Mexico’s top transportation official said Tuesday that the plane carrying Rivera plunged almost vertically from more than 28,000 feet and hit the ground in a nose-dive at a speed that may have exceeded 600 mph.
Nuevo Leon Secretary of Communications and Transportation Gerardo Ruiz Esparza told Radio Formula that the twin-engine turbojet hit the ground 1.2 miles from where it began falling.
Ruiz did not offer any explanation for what may have caused the plane to plummet.
Ruiz said the pilot, Miguel Perez Soto, had a valid Mexican pilot’s license that would have expired in January. Photos of a temporary pilot’s certificate issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration found amid the wreckage said that Perez was 78 years old. The transportation department said Wednesday that he was flying on a U.S. pilot’s license that had no limitations preventing him from flying from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey to the central city of Toluca early Sunday morning.
Ruiz said there is no age limit for flying a civil aviation aircraft, though for commercial flights it’s 65. A pilot as old as 78 would be unusual in the United States.
The 43-year-old California-born Rivera known as the “Diva de la Banda” died while her career was peaking. 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.