Death Threats, Grenades at Nexus of Paraguay Politics and Crime

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Paraguay’s Attorney General’s Office is investigating anonymous death threats the president of congress says he received from drug traffickers in a country that has seen a stream of accusations of links between top politicians and organized crime bosses.

Senator Robert Acevedo claims he received deaths threats from drug traffickers via WhatsApp messages sent to his brother’s personal phone, reported Ultima Hora.

The offices of Radio Amambay, a station owned by the Acevedo family, were the target of a grenade attack the evening of September 9. The senator’s brother allegedly received the deaths threats written in Portuguese via WhatsApp messages the following day.

“We gave you a warning, idiot … your brother is next. This will not end until you shut your mouth,” read the messages according to the PanAm Post.

This is the third attack on the radio station since 2014.

According to the opposition senator from the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico), the threats are the result of his recent accusations of collusion between the government and known drug trafficker Jorge Rafaat. Acevedo accused officials of trying to have a Rafaat rival, drug capo Jarvis Chimenes Pavão, extradited to Brazil.

Though the messages were sent from a stolen telephone, police arrested three individuals suspected of being linked to the death threats on September 12. Two brothers of one of the arrested, Mariela Rossani Arévalos Rodríguez, are allegedly drug traffickers, according to Ultima Hora.

InSight Crime Analysis

The attack on Radio Amambay and the subsequent death threats occurred barely a week after authorities announced having discovered an assassination plot targeting President Horacio Cortes. According to the official story, the Brazilian drug capo Pavão, who is imprisoned in Paraguay, ordered a hit on President Cortes. The supposed assassination plot came after the president ordered the high-profile inmate’s transfer from what local media described as a luxury prison cell to a special police facility. As InSight Crime previously noted, some experts in Paraguay have questioned the existence of the reported assassination plan.

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The attack and threats targeting Senator Acevedo, a leading figure of the political opposition, add to the political tension and intrigue in Paraguay, especially given the senator’s recent allegations of ties between the executive and Rafaat. The businessman and alleged drug baron was ambushed in June 2016 by assassins whose blasted his armored SUV with a .50 caliber machine gun. Rafaat had a similar weapon mounted in the back of his own vehicle.

According to ABC Color, a great rivalry existed between Rafaat and Senator Acevedo, who himself has been accused of ties to drug traffickers in the past by that same journal.

The stream of accusations that high-level politicians have ties to drug lords and the ensuing violence do not bode well for Paraguay. Should the allegations prove true, the country could be facing serious challenges to its political stability on top of existing concerns about its security situation.

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