HomeNewsBriefEx-Congressman Murdered as Paraguay Narco-Politics Turns Violent
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Ex-Congressman Murdered as Paraguay Narco-Politics Turns Violent

PARAGUAY / 7 MAY 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The murder of a high profile former congressman with alleged drug ties in Paraguay could be a harbinger of more violence as the country's narco-politics nexus shows its bloody face.

On May 5, two time-Congressman Magdaleno Silva was gunned down by several heavily armed men in front of his home in the city Yby Yau. Silva's son and two ranchers he had been talking to at the time of the attack were also killed.

Silva was a controversial figure. He had been accused of ties to drug traffickers throughout his political career, reported Ultima Hora. In 2010, for instance, a rival congressman dubbed Silva "the representative of drug traffickers in Congress," although no charges were ever leveled against him.

He left congress in 2013, but Silva remained a powerful figure in Yby Yau and was still renowned as a "caudillo," or strongman, with significant political clout.

The prime suspects in the murder are alleged drug traffickers from the Esquivel family, authorities indicated. Police have already raided a property belonging to the Esquivels where they arrested one man and seized an arms cache, reported ABC.

The assassination was the second attempt on Silva's life, following a failed hit in September last year.

InSight Crime Analysis

The murder of Magdaleno Silva is the latest in a series of events to cast a light on the strong possible links between drug trafficking and corrupt politicians in Paraguay.

The case follows on from the "narco-politics" scandal last year, when ties between several congressmen and drug trafficking groups, including Brazil's First Capital Command (PCC) were uncovered.

The accusations go right to the top of Paraguayan politics. President Horacio Cartes is the subject of persistent accusations of links to drug trafficking and money laundering, and he has family members who have been convicted of drug trafficking.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Paraguay

However, until the killing of Silva, there had been little to suggest that these connections would result in violence against politicians. Murdering a politician, corrupt or otherwise, crosses a line. It takes drug war violence beyond underworld score-settling. In addition, touching legal actors draws more attention from the media and security forces alike.

The Silva murder may yet prove an isolated case, but it could also be a sign of the encroachment of criminal violence on the political world -- and more narco-politics related violence to come.

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