Beauty queen shot dead after octopus ceviche order led killers

An Ecuadorian beauty queen was murdered after her Instagram post of a plate of octopus ceviche led gunmen to the restaurant where she was dining.

Police are investigating the shooting of 23-year-old Landy Párraga, amid media speculation that the killing was ordered by the widow of a drug lord with whom she is believed to have had an affair.

The beauty queen and social media influencer was gunned down shortly after her name appeared in a corruption investigation linking judicial officials to organized crime.

Párraga had just posted a photo on Instagram of the ceviche she wanted to eat for lunch for her 173,000 followers when two armed men burst into the restaurant in Quevedo and shot her several times.

The restaurant’s CCTV footage captured Párraga under fire. She was reportedly shot three times and died shortly afterwards.

Párraga, who took fifth place in the 2022 Miss Ecuador edition, is said to have been the lover of Leandro Norero, a married drug trafficker who was killed in a prison riot eighteen months ago.

Investigators found photos of the beauty queen on Norero’s phone and evidence of the lavish gifts he gave her after his death, including apartments and cars.

“If my wife finds out anything about her, I’m screwed,” Norero had said about Párraga to an alleged criminal associate, Helive Ángulo.

He added: “My friend, her name cannot appear anywhere. Otherwise my world will collapse.”

Mr. Ángulo is one of about 50 people facing charges as a result of Operation Metastasis, the investigation into a criminal network accused of corrupting Ecuadorian state officials.

Those charged include judges accused of favoring gang leaders, police officials accused of tampering with evidence and supplying weapons to prisons, and the former director of Ecuador’s Prisons Authority, accused of special treatment to a powerful drug trafficker.

An Instagram image of Landy Párraga in Times Square, New York, wearing shorts and a T-shirtAn Instagram image of Landy Párraga in Times Square, New York, wearing shorts and a T-shirt

The 23-year-old is suspected of laundering money for her drug lord lover

The corruption case came to light last December with dozens of arrests, just weeks before Ecuador experienced an explosion of violence when gangs took dozens of prison guards and police officers hostage.

President Daniel Noboa, who took office in November, responded by using emergency powers and sending the military to tackle some 22 gangs that the government has declared terrorist organizations.

Norero’s widow, Lina Romero, is accused of trying to bribe judges and prosecutors and according to Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio, police are investigating whether Párraga laundered money for Norero.

The influencer, who amassed more than a million followers on TikTok, owned a sportswear label and a goods importing company, which authorities suspect may have been a front for some of Norero’s illegal activities.

The octopus ceviche that Mrs. Párraga posted online shortly before her deathThe octopus ceviche that Mrs. Párraga posted online shortly before her death

The octopus ceviche that Mrs. Párraga posted online shortly before her death

Known as ‘el Patron’ (the boss), Norero had a long history of gang violence and drug trafficking when he was arrested in May 2022. During the operation, police seized several bars of gold bullion and $7 million in cash, as well as firearms. .

Norero had previously faked his death to evade authorities, stating that he had succumbed to Covid-19 during the pandemic. In late 2022, authorities said Norero had been killed in prison, although his body – badly burned in a fire caused by the riot – was never identified.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, President Noboa’s government has introduced a system of taking DNA samples from all prisoners for identification. But authorities have now reportedly halted this over fears the samples could be used to implicate prisoners in other crimes.

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