Jenni Rivera Tied To Drug Cartels, Witness Says In Mexican Report

01/10/2013 05:45 pm ET | Updated Jan 11, 2013

Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera, who died in a tragic plane crash last month, may have had ties to drug cartels, according to reports in the Mexican media.

A protected witness identified by the alias “Jennifer” told Mexican daily Reforma that alleged drug cartel kingpin Édgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal contracted Rivera for parties. The witness “Jennifer” worked as a lawyer for the Beltrán Leyva cartel, according to Reforma.

The lawyer also said “La Barbie” once kicked Rivera in order to humiliate her and that she snorted cocaine at cartel parties.

The allegations had originally surfaced in 2009, according to Fox News Latino. Rivera denied being contracted for parties by drug lords at the time.

While Rivera denied connections to drug traffickers, her family helped popularize the controversial genre known as “narcocorridos” -- border ballads that tell the stories of the larger-than-life figures that dominate the drug trade.

A favorable narcocorrido can fetch anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, according to Edmundo Pérez, author of “May They Bury Me With Narcocorridos.” But it’s not a safe way to make a living. Pérez’s research turned up some 50 narcorrido musicians who had died in circumstances that led the author to suspect the involvement of drug cartels.

Rivera died on Dec. 9 when her plane went into a 28,000-foot nosedive on its way from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey to Toluca, killing her and her six companions. It’s not clear what caused the crash.

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