Paraguay organized crime prosecutor is slain on Colombian beach

Attorney General of Paraguay Sandra Quiñonez prays
Atty. Gen. of Paraguay Sandra Quiñonez prays to a Virgin Mary statue at the entrance of her office after finding out about the killing of Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci during his honeymoon in Colombia.
(Jorge Saenz / Associated Press)

Paraguay’s prosecutor of organized crime and drug trafficking cases was slain Tuesday in Colombia apparently by gunmen on a personal watercraft as he honeymooned with his new wife on an island off Cartagena, authorities and their hotel said.

Marcelo Pecci married journalist Claudia Aguilera in April. Aguilera had recently shared photos on social media showing her and Pecci on the Barú peninsula in the Caribbean, south of the Colombian city of Cartagena.

Her final social media posting, hours before the attack, was a photo of herself and her husband with a pair of baby shoes along with the message: “The best wedding gift ... the approaching life that is a testimony to the sweetest love.”


The Decameron Barú Hotel, where the couple was staying, said gunmen traveled on a personal watercraft and shot at the couple while they were on the beach. It was not immediately known whether Aguilera was hurt in the attack. The gunmen also fired at a security guard, who was unhurt.

Colombia’s foreign minister and vice president, Marta Lucía Ramírez, said authorities were working to clarify “the motives and authors of this heinous crime.”

A “high command” criminal investigation unit has been sent to Cartagena, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano said. Paraguayan and U.S. officials will be integrated into the unit to help identify and prosecute the perpetrators, police said.

Pecci was investigating several high-profile cases in Paraguay including a shooting at a concert in January where an alleged drug trafficker and a soccer player’s wife were killed.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez decried the “cowardly murder” of the prosecutor and sent a message of condolence to his relatives on Twitter. He vowed to redouble Paraguay’s efforts against organized crime.

Paraguay is South America’s largest marijuana producer. Growing the plant is still illegal in that country, and much of the crop is smuggled into Argentina and Brazil.