Paraguayan opposition Senator Desiree Masi made serious complaints about the country’s Public Prosecution Office, telling the Senate that prosecutors “intentionally” delayed the unfolding of transnational anti-drug operation Ultranza PY, the largest in the country’s history.
According to Ms. Masi, accusations used to arrest high-ranking international drug trafficking targets this year were already in the hands of prosecutors last year. Therefore, by slowing down the investigations, she says, authorities have allowed many of the targets to prepare for the operation. One Uruguayan suspect fled the country, while another was executed.
Ultranza PY officially began this year, but not before 27 months of inquiries by authorities from both Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as efforts from Europol and the Drug Enforcement Agency in the U.S. The international operation seized assets worth over USD 100 million and made over 30 arrest warrants in February alone. At least two Paraguayan cabinet ministers were fired due to cartel links.
Furthermore, the operation is also linked to the assassination of Paraguayan anti-mafia prosecutor Marcelo Pecci, shot dead by anonymous gunmen during his honeymoon in Colombia in May. InSight Crime suggests that the Brazilian Primeiro Comando do Capital (PCC) is “heavily linked” to the killing.
Ms. Masi’s other complaints targeted former President Horacio Cartes, who remained in office between 2013 and 2018. The senator alleged the “disappearance of important evidence” linking Mr. Cartes’s bank Banco Basa to a massive cocaine seizure earlier this year.
A Paraguayan tobacco industry tycoon, Horacio Cartes has faced a number of criminal accusations, including for money laundering and harboring a notorious Brazilian dollar smuggler. He is also in Ultranza PY’s crosshairs. By the end of July, the U.S even blacklisted the former head of state for “significant” links with corruption and terrorist groups.