Her openness about her personal troubles endeared her to millions in the U.S. and Mexico.
"I am the same as the public, as my fans," she told The Associated Press in an interview last March.
Rivera sold 15 million records, and recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year for "Joyas prestadas: Banda." She was nominated for Latin Grammys in 2002, 2008 and 2011.
Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said "everything points toward" the wreckage belonging to the plane carrying Rivera and six other people to Toluca, outside Mexico City, from Monterrey, where the singer had just given a concert.
"There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human" in the wreckage found in the state of Nuevo Leon, Ruiz Esparza said. The impact was so powerful that the remains of the plane "are scattered over an area of 250 to 300 meters. It is almost unrecognizable."
A mangled California driver's license with Rivera's name and picture was found in the crash site debris.
No cause was given for the plane's crash, but its wreckage was found near the town of Iturbide in Mexico's Sierra Madre Oriental, where the terrain is very rough.
The Learjet 25, number N345MC, took off from Monterrey at 3:30 a.m. local time and was reported missing about 10 minutes later. It was registered to Starwood Management of Las Vegas, Nevada, according to FAA records. It was built in 1969 and had a current registration through 2015.
Also believed aboard the plane were her publicist, Arturo Rivera, her lawyer, makeup artist and the flight crew.
Though drug trafficking was the theme of some of her songs, she was not considered a singer of "narco corridos," or ballads glorifying drug lords like other groups, such as Los Tigres del Norte. She was better known for singing about her troubles in love and disdain for men.