Pecci case: the criminal network that ended the life of the Paraguayan prosecutor
In a country with as many murders as Colombia, few cases manage to shake public opinion and cause astonishment and national shame. The murder of Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci, which occurred in May 2022 on the beaches near Cartagena, continues to have an impact and the number of suspects in the crime is increasing. The murder of Pecci, during the honeymoon in which he and his wife announced that they would be his parents, revealed the communicating vessels of organized crime throughout the continent.
Eight months after the homicide, nine people have already been detained in a transnational effort between countries in the region, which was necessary because organized crime also carried out a transnational effort to commit it. The last of those captured, Margareth Chacón, found in El Salvador on January 18. The 42-year-old woman had been hiding in that country since the end of May and had left on several occasions to other Latin American countries. She was detained by Interpol and extradited to Colombia for prosecution. About her, the media president of El Salvador Nayib Bukele said that her country “will not be a refuge for criminals.” This Sunday, she was sent to jail.
For Colombia, if Chacón had not insisted on accelerating the murder, prosecutor Pecci would have left his vacation alive. The Prosecutor’s Office, which confronted her in a judicial hearing, reported that two days before the murder, in a meeting in a restaurant in Cartagena, she pressured her colleagues to have the murder carried out soon because the vacations of the prosecutor Pecci and his wife were over. close to finish “You insisted that the return had to be done and the vacation plans lasted between 6 days and nothing had been done,” said the prosecutor at the hearing. Indeed, the murder was committed the last day before the prosecutor and his wife, Claudia Aguilera, left the Caribbean.
The Colombian authorities consider that the woman was also key because she provided the vehicle in which the hitmen were transported to Cartagena, as well as a weapon. “Her vehicle of hers served as a safe to transport the money to cover the expenses of the hitmen. If you did not lend your vehicle, these people would not be able to get to Cartagena”, the prosecutor rebuked him.
Chacón is the wife of Andrés Felipe Pérez Hoyos, captured a week ago. According to the Police, he and his brother Ramón Emilio were in charge of the logistics of the crime. The Attorney General of Colombia, Francisco Barbosa, added that the judicial body has in its possession “documents, clothing and other documents and a truck that allow us to infer that they coordinated the execution of the crime and met with people who were directly involved in the event.” . They are charged with the crimes of homicide and illegal carrying of weapons.
Analysis of current affairs and the best stories from Colombia, every week in your mailbox
These brothers who confessed to their participation in the crime are considered the articulators. “Not much is known about their history, but from their confession, we know that they were the ones someone contacted to initiate criminal activity,” said Francisco Bernate, a lawyer for the Pecci family in Colombia. Ramón and Andrés Felipe Hoyos accepted charges and apologized for having murdered Pecci.
The brothers, in turn, hired Francisco Luis Correa in the city of Medellín. And he recruited people from his environment to execute it. It is precisely the recruiter who gives the first name to a transnational criminal structure. In one of the hearings he mentions the feared Venezuelan gang El Tren de Aragua.
In hearings of other prisoners, it was learned that 1,500 million Colombian pesos (about 400,000 dollars) were paid for the homicide, that it was prepared in a market place in Envigado, a city near Medellín, and that the hitmen were guided in part by the information published on social networks.
Correa Galeano is a Colombian ex-military officer who has spent twice in jail, has a conviction for sexual abuse and belongs to a criminal structure called Los Paisas. Arrested in June 2022, they found a 9-millimeter pistol, money, and payment vouchers. Captured with him were the Venezuelan Wendre Still Scott Carrillo, who would have shot the prosecutor; Eiverson Arrieta, allegedly responsible for transportation; and Marisol Londoño and her son, allegedly involved in surveillance.
The ex-soldier denied the charges at first. But the capture in Venezuela of Gabriel Carlos Luis Salinas, who drove the jet ski used for the murder, left his defense without ground. Salinas narrated that Correa was the one who hired him in Medellín and, once in Cartagena, he handed over the weapon. “We rented a jet ski, we went to the Barú beach and executed”: revealed the hitman according to the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior, Remigio Ceballos, who shared a video with the confession. In it, the man says that he received $8,000 and fled to Venezuela.
Salinas was captured because there was an Interpol circular; however, he will be tried in his country because Venezuelan law prohibits the extradition of its nationals. With the reestablishment of relations between Colombia and Venezuela, it is expected that there will be progress in the judicial coordination mechanisms for this type of case.
Bernate points out that the “general state of the investigation is more than satisfactory” because in less than a year of the crime, the perpetrators are captured, one of them in Venezuela, the brothers confessed and the recruiter is collaborating with justice. “The Prosecutor’s Office has carried out an extremely well-conducted investigation with enormous technical work. And in the midst of the tragedy, this is a good example of coordination between many countries,” said the lawyer, who also indicated that the victims have been permanently informed and treated with respect.
Pecci was a specialized prosecutor against organized crime in Paraguay and was in charge of several of the most important drug trafficking and money laundering cases in that country. One of the best known was the case of San Bernardino, where a model and an alleged criminal were murdered at a cumbia concert that brought together more than 20,000 people. He was also behind the investigation of the A Ultranza Py operation, which left several detainees for international drug trafficking and for the murder of businessman Mauricio Schwartzman, to which the prosecutor had publicly referred.
Paraguay is today the main marijuana producer in the region and the largest cocaine corridor from Bolivia to Europe. Bolivian coca is mixed in Paraguay with illegal chemical precursors that arrive from other countries. It is then hidden in trucks and shipping containers to be transported to Africa and Europe. Cape Verde and Rotterdam are the main ports of destination, according to the Paraguayan anti-drug secretary (Senad).
That is why the authorities look for the masterminds among different criminal organizations. In 2022, the then director of the Colombian Police, General Luis Eduardo Vargas, said that Brazil’s First Command of the Capital (PCC), another criminal structure that Pecci had been investigating, had ordered the assassination. But none is ruled out.
The last three captured, the Hoyos brothers and the woman detained in El Salvador will be key to reaching the crime computers. The Paraguayan Prosecutor’s Office announced that the United States Government is offering a reward of up to $5,000,000 for information on the “people who conspired” to assassinate the prosecutor.
subscribe here to the EL PAÍS newsletter on Colombia and receive all the key information on the country’s current affairs.