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Paraguay's organized crime prosecutor is slain while honeymooning on a Colombia beach

Paraguay Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez prays to a Virgin Mary statue at the entrance of her office in Asuncion, Paraguay, after she found out about the killing of Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci on Tuesday.
Jorge Saenz
/
AP
Paraguay Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez prays to a Virgin Mary statue at the entrance of her office in Asuncion, Paraguay, after she found out about the killing of Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci on Tuesday.

BOGOTA, Colombia — Paraguay's prosecutor of organized crime and drug trafficking cases was slain Tuesday by gunmen on a Colombian beach as he honeymooned with his new wife, who said the attackers came on a jet ski or small boat.

Prosecutor 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's 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 the attackers arrived on a jet ski and shot at the couple while they were on the beach. The gunmen also fired at a security guard, who was unhurt, the hotel said.

Aguilera, who wasn't hurt in the attack, said two attackers came on a small boat or jet ski, saying she couldn't remember precisely. One of them got off and "without saying a word shot Marcelo twice, once in the face and once in the back."

Officials are looking for motives and suspects

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 had 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 on Twitter. He vowed to redouble Paraguay's efforts against organized crime.

The director of Colombia's national police, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas, said he hadn't been aware that Pecci was in Colombia. He said Pecci was one of the most heavily guarded people in Paraguay since he "investigated cases of international terrorism."

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.

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