Paraguay expels Brazilian drug lord after he slays woman in his prison cell


Brazilian drug trafficker Marcelo Pinheiro was expelled Monday from Paraguay to Brazil by order of President Mario Abdo Benitez, after the boss of the organized crime group Comando Vermelho murdered a woman who visited him in his prison cell to avoid extradition to his country.

Pinheiro, a.k.a. "Marcelo Piloto," was taken in the early hours Monday from the police station to Asuncion International Airport to be put on a plane to Brazil, where he will be locked up in a maximum security prison.

A Brazilian federal judge ordered Pinheiro's incarceration Monday in Catanduvas Federal Penitentiary, one of the five maximum security prisons run by the federal government and where Brazil's most dangerous prisoners are held under the country's strictest disciplinary routine, the Public Safety Ministry said.

Paraguay's president admitted to reporters later in the day that he expelled the drug lord to avoid waiting through the entire court proceedings for the ruling on Piloto's extradition to Brazil, where several prison sentences await him.

"I decided to expel him from the country. Paraguay doesn't have to be a land of impunity for anyone. I'll take the risk. I couldn't wait any longer for the case to be over," Abdo Benitez said.

Two new heads of the National Police are expected to take over this Monday, after President Abdo Benitez dismissed the then-Chief of Police Bartolome Baez and his assistant, Luis Cantero.

That occurred the day after Piloto murdered Lidia Meza, 18, who had visited him after obtaining the required permission from the authorities.

According to official sources, Piloto punched her and then stabbed her with a dessert knife of the kind used by inmates.

Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor said that Piloto committed the crime to stop the extradition process against him.

The Attorney General's Office continued its investigation Monday into the slaying and the victim's relation to Piloto.

The crime came a day after the crime boss disqualified the judge and district attorney who, in a preliminary hearing for a case of forged documents and illicit bearing of arms, tried to speed up his extradition to Brazil by applying the "principle of expediency."

In late October, the Interior Ministry said it had scuttled a plan to free Pinheiro when a police operation killed three suspected members of Comando Vermelho and blew up a vehicle loaded with explosives.

That vehicle was supposedly intended to be used to blast a big opening in walls of the prison where the drug lord was being held.

Piloto is wanted by a court in Rio de Janeiro state to serve two prison sentences, one for 21 years and the other for five years and four months, according to Paraguay's Supreme Court of Justice.

The drug trafficker has been a prisoner in Paraguay since December 2017, after being arrested by a combined operation of international antidrug agencies.

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