Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci was recently murdered on the Island of Barú while on honeymoon with his wife. The young prosecutor, who specialized in organized crime, had a reputation for pursuing cases related to transnational criminal organizations and money laundering. His brutal murder, far from Paraguay, shocked the nation and hinted at a highly organized and motivated set of criminal organizations operating in conjunction.

Five suspects, one Venezuelan and four Colombians, have been arrested and prosecuted for the crime, according to reporting in Spain’s top newspaper El País. The BBC’s Spanish-language news service BBC Español further reports that the hit was likely organized by the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), Brazil’s largest and most sophisticated criminal organization. The PCC uses Paraguay’s relatively ungoverned tri-border area as a hub for smuggling and money laundering. Pecci was conducting one of the largest investigations into criminal organizations in Paraguay’s history. The cross-continent operation displays a remarkable level of criminal coordination and sophistication. It also shows the extent to which Paraguay risks becoming a state held hostage by criminal interests operating in its much larger neighbor. Finally, Pecci’s assassination highlights the persistent inability of Latin America’s governments to protect prosecutors, police, and politicians pursuing anti-corruption agendas.

The prosecutor was leading one of the largest anti-mafia operations in the history of Paraguay, a key country in the region’s drug trafficking network.

Source: “Capturan a los presuntos asesinos del fiscal Marcelo Pecci (The capture of alleged murderers of prosecutor Marcelo Pecci),” El País (Spain’s top newspaper with comprehensive coverage of Latin America), 3 June 2022.

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…Without committing to a hypothesis, the director of the Colombian Police, General Jorge Vargas, said that ‘two of the main investigations carried out by prosecutor Pecci in Latin America were against the Primeiro Comanda da Capital—the most powerful group of organized crime in Brazil and South America—and the structure known as Point 50, in the south of the continent.’

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