Paraguayan Anti-mafia Prosecutor Killed on a Colombian Beach

Published: 16 May 2022

Marcelo Pecci CoffinCasket with the murdered Paraguayan Prosecutor Marcelo Pecci. (Photo: Ministerio Público del Paraguay/Twitter, License)

By Vinicius Madureira

Unknown hitmen killed a Paraguayan anti-mafia prosecutor while he and his new wife were laying on a beach in Colombia where they were honeymooning.

The assassins arrived on a jet ski, one jumped off, approached prosecutor of organized crime and drug trafficking cases Marcelo Pecci, 45, and shot him in the face and in the back. Just a few hours before the assasination, Pecci’s wife, journalist Claudia Aguilera, had posted on Instagram a photo of the couple holding a pair of baby shoes, indicating that they were expecting.

Colombian Deputy Prosecutor Martha Mancera told local media that Pecci’s death is likely linked “to his work against organized crime in Paraguay.”

President Mario Abdo Benítez said he condemns “this tragic event in the strongest terms and will double our commitment to fight against organized crime.”

Pecci was known for handling high-profile investigations related to drug trafficking and arms offenses, money laundering and terrorism. He was one of the prosecutors involved in operation A Ultranza Py that delivered the biggest blow to cocaine trafficking and money laundering in Paraguay’s history.

The operation unleashed a scandal that forced President Benítez to dismiss two of his high-ranking ministers, local media reported.

Drug traffickers who exported tonnes of cocaine from Colombia and Bolivia to Europe using Paraguay lost more than US$100 million.

Pecci coordinated various investigations into the violent Brazilian prison gang Primeiro Comando da Capital, or First Command of Capital, including one on the murder of the Brazilian journalist Lourenço Veras, who covered police operations and organized crime along the Brazil-Paraguay border.

Since last Tuesday, Paraguayan security forces have worked together with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Interpol and FBI on Pecci’s murder. Colombia has released surveillance camera photos of an alleged perpetrator and the Colombian government is offering US$500,000 for a tip that leads to the killer.

The assassination comes on the heels of the extradition of Dario Antonio Úsuga David, known as Otoniel, to the United States, which prompted retaliation attacks that took dozens of lives and forced authorities to imposed curfews in more than 100 Colombian cities.