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Cartel Boss Allegedly Killed Woman for Cushier Prison Cell

Marcelo Pinheiro's alleged plan to avoid extradition fails
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2018 11:00 AM CST
Brazilian Marcelo Fernando Pinheiro Veiga also known as Marcelo Piloto is seen at Paraguay's National Anti-Drugs Office in Asuncion on Dec. 14, 2017.   (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

(Newser) – What's one more murder when it might secure you a spot in a cushier prison? That was allegedly the thinking of a Brazilian cartel boss jailed in Paraguay, who authorities say killed a woman in his high-security cell in the hope that fresh charges would prevent him being extradited home, where guards aren't so easily bribed. Unfortunately for Marcelo Pinheiro—a leader of the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) criminal group, wanted in Brazil since 2012 on murder, armed robbery, drug-trafficking, and other charges—only the first part of the alleged scheme went to plan. Authorities say Pinheiro, also known as Marcelo Piloto, received an 18-year-old woman into his cell Saturday before knocking her unconscious and fatally stabbing her 16 times with a dessert knife, per the Guardian.

Pinheiro's lawyer, who visited shortly before Lidia Meza came calling for unknown reasons, immediately called for murder charges to be laid in Paraguay. But Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez wasn't having it. He ordered Pinheiro's extradition to Brazil, where the cartel boss is now held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison, per the Guardian. At the time of his arrest in Paraguay last December, Reuters referred to Pinheiro as "Brazil's most wanted arms trafficker," noting he'd allegedly funneled arms, ammunition, and drugs to Brazilian communities via Paraguay. Saturday's murder comes a little over a week after the targeted assassination of Pinheiro's former lawyer in a Paraguayan city near the Brazilian border, per the Buenos Aires Times. (El Chapo's trial is underway in New York.)

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