By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
The world of narcos is one where truth is stranger than fiction. Just look at fugitive cartel boss Sebastián Marset. While on the run from serious drug and murder charges, he fled to Bolivia. Last week, he barely managed to escape arrest. Rather than be happy and quiet about it, he went on the offensive this week, posting a video in which he thanked police for tipping him off.
Over 2,250 police officers entered the city of Santa Cruz in Bolivia looking for the 32-year-old fugitive drug kingpin last week. Marset is the alleged leader of the PCU or First Uruguayan Cartel and is wanted for trafficking tons of cocaine from Paraguay to Uruguay on to Europe. Authorities in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the U.S. have issued warrants for his arrest.
False identities and corrupt contacts
Marset has proven to be a difficult prey, however. Perhaps his years in prison for a 2013 marijuana and weapons smuggling conviction left a nasty taste. After his release, he upped his game and moved around a lot. He relocated from Uruguay to neighboring Paraguay and used false identities like hotel shampoo.
His measures were successful, for a while. In 2021 he had a brief moment of stress when authorities at the airport in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates held him for using a forged Paraguayan passport. Dubai is a favorite destination for international drug traffickers.
What would have been a serious problem for most fugitives, turned out to be a minor inconvenience for Marset. For some mysterious reason, he received an official new passport from Uruguayan authorities and able to continue on his journey.
Whacking a prosecutor on his honeymoon in front of his wife
At this point, Marset probably felt untouchable. Globetrotting and flush with cash, no one stood in his way. Well, except for one Paraguayan crime fighter named Marcelo Pecci. He helped launch “A Ultranza Py,” the biggest operation against cocaine trafficking and money laundering in Paraguay's history.
Pecci was one of the country’s most successful prosecutors, involved in many high profile cases. His personal life was doing great as well. He married Paraguayan journalist Claudia Aguilera Quintana on April 30, 2022. For their honeymoon, they went to a private beach resort on Baru, an island off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia.
On May 10, 2022, the pair were in love and celebrating that they were about to have their first child. Claudia was pregnant. She shared the news on her Instagram. Two hours later they were on the beach when two men came towards them from the ocean.
“They came in a small boat, or on a jet ski, the truth is I did not see well,” Claudia told El Tiempo newspaper. She said that one of the men got off and “without a word he shot Marcelo twice, one [bullet] hit him in the face and another in the back.”
Such brazen killings inevitably cause a fierce reaction from authorities. In August of 2022, Colombian President Gustavo Petro personally named Marset as the one suspected of ordering the murder of Pecci.
The hunt was on.
After being outed as the man behind the vicious killing, Marset fled to Bolivia, where he settled into a life of luxury. He bought a lot of property and even a football (soccer) club. He lived with his wife and children in a glitzy home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s biggest city and the nation’s economic center.
Authorities, at one point, knew about this and decided to take action. Last week, Saturday, July 29, 2023, thousands of cops flooded in. As they searched for the elusive drug lord, a group of officers ran into one of Marset’s bodyguards and was taken hostage. The cop was later released.
Police searched a total of eight properties, found 17 rifles, a pistol and bulletproof vests, and arrested a dozen people with alleged links to the Uruguayan, but were unable to capture their prime target. It is said Marset and his wife and three kids got into a car and fled the city.
Thanking corrupt police
On Wednesday, August 2, Marset decided to taunt his hunters. He sent Bolivian media a video he recorded in which he says the following:
“I don't implicate people who are innocent. None of these people who are in trouble have anything to do with my business, and they're going down the drain because of this. They're linking people everywhere [to the case against me] who have nothing to do with me.”
He then drops a bomb when he thanks “the director of the Felcn (Bolivia's Special Force against Drug Trafficking)” for helping him evade arrest. Marset: “I managed to get away, because he warned me that the minister had issued an arrest warrant for me. And well, I grabbed some money, and he told me [it was time] to leave.”
The director of the Felcn, Ismael Villca, denied these accusations, stating: “I won't allow my career of 30 years to be sullied by the lies and statements of a drug trafficker.” He added that Bolivian police had acted “impeccably”.
Why Marset decided to record and release such a video is unknown. Cornered animals tend to make unexpected moves and this kingpin is no different. Whether it had the preferred result, only Marset knows.
One thing is certain: the hunt continues and will only increase in intensity. Whether his allegations are true or false, Marset placed a big bull’s eye on his back by stepping out in the open. The clock is ticking on his arrest.
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