A Paraguayan radio journalist has been shot to death in a Brazilian city bordering a crime-ridden area that is a hotbed for drugs and arms smuggling, officials said on Friday. Gerardo Servian worked for a local radio station near the city of Pedro Juan Caballero.
The 45-year-old was killed Thursday in the Brazilian city of Ponta Pora when he was shot nine times on a street by unidentified gunmen who escaped in a motorcycle, said police chief Walter Vazquez.
The victim's brother Francisco said Servian had never received death threats, and that he had recently moved to Ponta Pora because his daughters attend a school in the Brazilian city. But in this area of the country it's normal to silence journalists with gunshots, added the brother, who is also a journalist.
Four other journalists have been killed since the start of last year while working along the porous and crime-ridden northern border with Brazil.
The security situation in the country's northern area bordering Brazil is like something out of fiction. The state is weak. Drug dealers and other criminals set the pace throughout more than 600 kilometers of a lawless border, said Paraguayan political analyst Ignacio Martinez.
In a statement, Paraguay's press union said Friday that this new assault on the life of a press worker shows the urgent need to end the impunity.
Anti-drug chief Luis Rojas has estimated more than 100 gangs, made up of Paraguayan and Brazilian drug dealers, operate in Paraguay's northern region.
In related news Paraguay’s attorney general said his office will file extradition charges following the arrest of Vilmar ‘Neneco’ Acosta Marques, the former mayor of the Paraguayan town of Ypejhu who was detained Wednesday by Brazilian authorities on suspicion of ordering the murder of a local journalist.
“Even though Vilmar Acosta has dual citizenship we are going to request extradition for all of the open cases against him,” Paraguayan Attorney General Javier Diaz Veron stated.
Acosta was arrested in the Brazilian town of Navirai in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul by Brazilian police acting on intelligence provided by their Paraguayan counterparts.
Acosta is wanted for the October 2014 murder of Pablo Medina, a well-known journalist who criticized the close ties between Paraguayan political officials and drug traffickers operating in Paraguay’s border areas.
The former mayor, who was identified by Medina as one of the key links between local politicians and drug traffickers, is considered to be an essential piece to solving Medina’s murder and to fully exposing the relationship between criminal organizations and local politicians.