HomeNewsTargeted Killings: The Favored Modus Operandi of Paraguay's Drug Gangs

Targeted Killings: The Favored Modus Operandi of Paraguay's Drug Gangs


Brazen killings by hired gunmen have not only shaken Paraguay recently but shined a light on the growing use of this method by drug gangs when targeting their rivals.

The latest case to grab headlines occurred at a music festival near the capital Asunción, where suspected trafficker Marco Rojas Mora was gunned down. In the gunfire, influencer and model Cristina "Vita" Aranda was struck. She was taken to a hospital where she later died.

Rojas – who authorities said had links to Brazil's most powerful gang, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital - PCC) – was probably the intended target in the January 30 concert shooting, though he was likely not the only one, according to El País. Also injured in the gunfire were Luis Bogado Quevedo and Marcelo Monteggia.

Both men have warrants out for their arrest. Quevedo is charged with drug and arms trafficking in Brazil. Monteggia is charged with homicide in Bolivia in a case connected to drug trafficking.

SEE ALSO: How Brazil's Borders Became More Diverse, Dangerous

Targeted killings, known as sicariato, accounted for more than a third of Paraguay's homicides in 2021. In January of this year, there were 27 such killings, the highest number in a single month, according to Terere Cómplice, a Paraguayan investigative media outlet.

InSight Analysis

While the bloodshed at the concert festival occurred in the country's capital, drug turf wars along the country's border with Brazil are primarily to blame for the recent increase in targeted killings.

Such murders are becoming routine in Amambay and Concepción, which are crucial waypoints for traffickers moving cocaine, marijuana and arms. According to a 2021 Terere Cómplice report written by investigator Jorge Rolón Luna, figures show that the homicides in departments with high drug activity are composed "primarily (of) contract killings."

Rolón Luna, the former director of the country's citizen security observatory, wrote that "the current violence and contract killings are the result of an intensification of drug trafficking activity, disputes between drug trafficking organizations for control of territories, routes and businesses, or the absence of a truce between rivals."

SEE ALSO: Deadly Riot Shows Paraguay Prisons Unprepared for PCC Onslaught

The PCC's inroads into Paraguay have led to conflicts in these border regions. The group has also clashed with Paraguay's homegrown gang, Clan Rotela. A 2019 riot that left nine dead in the San Pedro prison was over the sale and movement of drugs.

Speaking in a seminar on sicariato in Paraguay, criminologist Juan Martens asserted that Paraguay continues to fail in its duties to effectively combat top-tier criminal organizations. Resources are "misused chasing micro-traffickers, who are easily replaceable, while we let the big ones go free," Martens said.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


Mexico has once again dominated a list of the most violent cities in the world but smaller towns have now…

BARRIO 18 / 18 DEC 2020

A recent police raid in the eastern part of El Salvador, in which a mayor and several municipal and judicial…

BRAZIL / 14 APR 2021

Messer, the notoriously prolific money launderer, was able to move millions of dollars through Brazil’s emerald mining industry, adding yet…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…