Venezuela announced on Thursday that a suspect in the execution-style death of a Paraguayan anti-drug prosecutor who was killed during his honeymoon on a Caribbean island had confessed to receiving $8,000 for the crime.
Remigio Ceballos, Venezuela’s minister of the interior, provided journalists with a video in which Gabriel Carlos Luis Salinas Mendoza, a Venezuelan citizen arrested in Caracas on Tuesday, appears to confess to his involvement in the murder of Marcelo Pecci.
Salinas, one of two alleged assassins, is seen telling interrogators, “We rented a jet ski, went to Baru beach (in Colombia), and committed the crime.”
Then, “I received $8,000 and traveled to Venezuela” over the border.
In May, Pecci, 45, was killed by two shots while vacationing with his wife, Paraguayan journalist Claudia Aguilera, on an exquisite island beach.
The wedding took place on April 30 in Cartagena, a nearby city.
The BBC said that just two hours before the incident, Aguilera had posted an Instagram photo announcing the couple’s pregnancy. Two males arrived on the beach by jet ski or small boat, according to Aguilera’s account. One of them approached Pecci and “silently” shot him twice.
Before Marcelo Pecci’s funeral on May 15, 2022 in Asuncion, the president of Paraguayan club Guarani, Juan Alberto Acosta (L), expresses his sympathies to his brother Francisco Pecci (C) and wife Claudia Aguilera (R). DANIEL DUARTE/AFP courtesy of Getty Images
Salinas is suspected of operating the jet ski.
In the video, he reveals that he was acting for Francisco Correa, also known as “El Monin.”
Ceballos stated that Salinas will be tried in Venezuela, where extradition to other countries is prohibited by law.
The inquiry has not yet identified the criminal masterminds. The U.S. State Department offered a $5 million prize last month for information “leading to the arrests and/or convictions of the as yet unidentified persons who conspired or attempted to participate” in the killing.
Reuters reported that four others have been sentenced to almost 23 years in prison in Colombia for their involvement in the murder of Pecci.
Pecci was an expert in organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering, and financing for terrorism.
On November 9, 2021, Paraguayan anti-drug prosecutor Marcelo Pecci will speak in Asuncion. DANIEL DUARTE/AFP courtesy of Getty Images
At the time of his assassination, the Attorney General of Paraguay, Sandra Quinonez, stated that Pecci had won significant convictions in an 11-year fight against transnational and drug crime.
According to the BBC, Pecci had bodyguards in Paraguay but was unprotected for his honeymoon in Colombia.
Despite a 2016 peace agreement that disarmed the FARC rebel group and ended a nearly six-decade civil war, Colombia, the world’s largest cocaine producer, is experiencing a surge in violence.
Dissident FARC rebels, the ELN rebel group, paramilitary forces, and drug cartels continue to fight over territory and resources in portions of the country, particularly in areas bordering Venezuela.
Paraguay, a landlocked country nested between Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina, has become a key launching pad for drugs destined for Europe.
Recently, Paraguay and Colombia have strengthened their cooperation in the fight against transnational and organized crime.
In June, the New York City Bar Association issued a statement condemning Pecci’s “untimely killing at the hands of assassins for no apparent cause other than his professional excellence