“You tell me what cartels you work with and I’ll stop seizing your airplanes,” Esquino said the agent told him. “I said, `You’re wasting your time.’”
Esquino, a Mexican citizen, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to committing fraud involving aircraft he purchased in Mexico, then falsified the planes’ log books and re-sold them in the United States. He now denies that charge as well, and has since been deported.
The DEA also has subpoenaed all of Starwood’s records dating back to 2007, including its relationship former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank-Rhon, a gambling mogul and member of one of Mexico’s most powerful families. 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.
“The DEA has destroyed my business, they have destroyed my reputation. That’s how they win,” Esquino said. “They can’t get me on a drug conviction because they have nothing on me, but they destroy my life in the meantime.”
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.
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