As prosecutor Marcelo Pecci’s remains return to his native Paraguay this Friday, the investigation into his murder, which took place Tuesday May 10 at Baru Beach, 45 minutes from Cartagena, continues in both countries and the United States. Hypotheses about material and intellectual authors are still extensive, but all of them are related to his work as a drug prosecutor and specialized in organized crime. According to Paraguayan interior minister Federico González, one of them suggests they were following him from the southern country. “There are several lines of investigation, there are achievements that we cannot point to, but we are on the right track,” he told Caracol Radio. What seems ruled out is that the killer was Colombian.
The search for the gunmen who rode motorized skis to carry out the assassination led the authorities to conduct an analysis of “migration movements of previous and subsequent flights from Paraguay” and also checked the list of people who were in hotels and places where Pecci was with his wife Claudia Aguilera who is expecting a baby. Several Paraguayan travelers were interrogated by Colombian authorities but were not captured.
Five days after the incident, it became known that the man who fired the weapon was not a Colombian by nationality, was 1.74 meters tall and spoke with a Caribbean accent, according to the director of the Colombian police, General Jorge Vargas. Except that with another hitman, he rented a jet ski for 200,000 pesos for 30 minutes, but they used it for 7 to 13 minutes.
“They skirted the beach to the place, went down, executed, returned, went to the parking lot, which was behind the place for motorcycles, and took the inland (overland) route,” Manuel Doldan, prosecutor for International Affairs, told Radio Monumental de Paraguay. Doldan, who was also a friend of Pecci, explained that the fighters did not escape by sea, but instead took the road leading to Cartagena. Pecci was shot three times with a 9mm pistol.
After the publication of the photograph and the verbal portrait of the killer, the authorities received calls and new photographs not only from Cartagena, but also from other cities of the country. Some of this information was included in the process, and some was discarded. 26 checkpoints have been set up at strategic points in Cartagena, with 250 police officers deployed, and field investigations have been conducted at 102 hotels and hostels in the city.
The Colombian police assured that this was a “highly planned” operation and that it required the investment of economic resources, so they do not exclude the participation of any of the criminal organizations that were the subject of Pecci’s investigations. “Two of the main investigations carried out by prosecutor Pecci in Latin America concerned the so-called First Capital Command (PCC) and the structure known as Point 50 in the south of the continent,” Vargas said, although he clarified that it was not known at the time whether there were they are connected.
Other versions published in the local media indicate the participation of three people who were supposed to be part of the Hezbollah structure. In 2019, Pecci handed over Lebanese Nader Mohamad Farhat, whose extradition was requested by the Florida Southern District Court for money laundering, to DEA agents. One case involves Mahmoud Ali Barakat (extraditioned in 2018) and Kassed Mohamad Hijazi, a Brazilian citizen of Lebanese origin.
Regarding this version, the prosecutor assured that although they are considering several cases related to money laundering on a large scale, it cannot yet be said that the case is connected with this terrorist group. Doldan, however, acknowledged that Pecci was acting on the case of a Lebanese citizen detained in Paraguay. The murdered prosecutor also investigated Operation Ultranza A Py, during which he carried out 12 raids and confiscated planes, boats and other property that served criminal gangs for money laundering.
A reward of up to 2,000,000,000 Colombian pesos ($500,000) for information about the killers remains.
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