Paraguayan drug prosecutor killed on honeymoon in Colombia

Paraguay’s attorney general who specializes in the fight against drug smuggling, Marcelo Pecchi, was assassinated Tuesday in Colombia by killers who had landed on a water bike on the Paradise Beach of a Caribbean island where he was on his honeymoon.

At the beginning of this afternoon, the Colombian police chief announced that five Colombian investigators have been dispatched to the island of Barrow “where the murder was committed” to conduct investigations with the support of Paraguay and the United States. General Jorge Luis Vargas.

He did not specify the date or circumstances of the assassination, which was committed while the Public Prosecutor was spending his honeymoon on this tourist island.

“Yes, he died”

Marcelo Picci, 45, married Colombian journalist, Claudia Aguilera, on April 30 in Cartagena, and posted photos of her wedding via her Twitter account. “Yes, he died,” his wife confirmed in a short interview with Colombian radio.

The murder took place on the private beach of a local luxury hotel, the Decameron Hotel, among tourists and in front of the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. “Two men arrived (from the sea) on a boat, got close and opened fire before escaping,” she explained. “One of the guards wanted to intervene so they shot him too.” She simply added that Prosecutor Beachy “has not received any threats.”

The hotel complex in which the couple were staying contains other details in a press release, specifying that “the killers arrived on a jet ski on the beach in front of the hotel.”

In the last photo posted before the tragedy on the young woman’s Instagram account, the couple was embracing on the beach, with a pair of small socks in front, indicating that the newlyweds were expecting a child.

According to Paraguay’s ambassador to Colombia, Sofia Lopez, the “transport” of Prosecutor Peche’s body to his country “will not take place immediately”, due to the necessities of the investigation.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Colombian police released a photo of one of the alleged killers, wearing black Bermuda shorts with his head covered in a beige Panama hat.

Colombian Police Director General Jorge Luis Vargas told a press conference that the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the Colombian and Paraguayan authorities are working together “to obtain as much information as possible about this crime.”

Reward for any information

Police announced a reward of $488,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez condemned on Twitter the “cowardly assassination of Prosecutor Marcelo Pecchi in Colombia”, who “mourns the entire Paraguayan nation”. “We condemn this tragic act in the strongest terms and redouble our commitment to combating organized crime,” the president emphasized.

“The way they (the killers) behaved, the way they were executed, is characteristic of the mafia. I see no other explanation (…) ”, estimated the President of the Paraguayan Association of Prosecutors, Augusto Salas.

Speaking to a Colombian radio station, Paraguay’s attorney general, Sandra Quiñones, noted that her murdered colleague had received “important convictions” in “eleven years of struggle against drug trafficking and transnational crime.” “He just wanted to enjoy his honeymoon in privacy, which is why he didn’t have safety” around him. “He was a great friend (…) who told me his wife was expecting a baby,” Sandra Quinonez confirmed.

Colombian General Jorge Luis Vargas said that a “police commission” from Paraguay will travel to Colombia to participate in the Colombian investigation.

Colombian President Ivan Duque also condemned the assassination via his Twitter account and confirmed that he is in contact with his Paraguayan counterpart to ensure “all cooperation (necessary) to find those responsible.”

Organized Crime Specialist

Marcello Picci was a prosecutor specializing in organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorist financing.

He was known for his involvement in the investigation that led to the placement of the footballer Ronaldinho behind bars between March and August 2020 for entering Paraguay with false documents.

Paraguay and Colombia have strengthened their cooperation against international organized crime in recent years. Despite decades of fighting cartels and drug dealers, Colombia remains the world’s leading producer and exporter of cocaine.

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