Uruguayan news outlet Telenoche (Canal 4) received a chilling threat signed by the elusive Uruguayan drug lord, Sebastián Marset, who remains a fugitive from justice, as the reporters announced during their Wednesday 5 broadcast. The text, sent via WhatsApp at 10:47 PM on Tuesday, 4th, bore a clear warning: “Hello. If you continue making articles about me, there will be consequences. I am Marset.” Accompanying this chilling statement was a photo featuring 24 Glock pistol magazines arranged meticulously in a box.
The journalists from Telenoche noted that the photo was not sourced from any internet search, indicating that it had not been previously circulated publicly. They also clarified that the image did not correspond to any firearms found during the raids that took place this week at Marset's mansion in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, making it all the more concerning.
Of particular significance was the origin of the number from which the threat was sent - it bore the prefix of the Falkland Islands (+500). Strikingly, this same number had been used before by the narcotrafficker to communicate with Telenoche in August 2022 when he sent a series of videos denying his involvement in the assassination of Paraguayan prosecutor Marcelo Pecci, for which he stands accused.
In response to the threats, Uruguayan Interior Minister Luis Alberto Heber expressed solidarity with the journalists, assuring them of their safety. This is very serious and calls for the protection of free journalism, which informs the public. Therefore, we want to convey the full guarantee provided institutionally by the government and the Ministry of the Interior to preserve the security of journalists performing their duties, stated Heber.
During the previous video communication, Marset had insisted, If you have evidence, speak up calmly, but if you don't, don't talk. You people don't seem to get tired of talking, and you're getting on my nerves. This video was his first public appearance after being detained in Dubai in 2021 for possessing a fake Paraguayan passport. Using a Uruguayan document, he secured his release.
Back in 2020, the narcotics prosecutor Mónica Ferrero had received a threatening message through WhatsApp, and two days later, a bomb exploded at the Anti-Drug Brigade in Montevideo. Investigations later revealed the involvement of Marset's organization in the threats against the prosecutor and the attack on the brigade, as previously reported by El Observador. However, direct evidence linking Marset to these incidents was lacking.
The seriousness of the threat was evident when, just six minutes after the message was received by Telenoche, a journalist in Bolivia received the same threatening text and accompanying photo. Bolivian news outlet ATB Digital also reported that one of its journalists was threatened by Sebastián Marset, declaring their intent to continue reporting on the case. Other Bolivian journalists confirmed that the threat was directed at multiple media outlets, but only one chose to make it public due to editorial considerations.
He emphasized the government's commitment to safeguarding the press and continuing the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. Likewise, the Bolivian Minister of Government, Eduardo del Castillo, showed solidarity with the journalists and pledged to provide the necessary security to the TV network.
In a further unsettling development, the morning of Thursday, the 6th, another Uruguayan news outlet, Subrayado (Canal 10), revealed that it, too, had received the same threatening message minutes before Canal 4.
Authorities in both Uruguay and Bolivia are taking the threats seriously, and journalists are urged to remain vigilant while continuing their vital work in informing the public.