Contributed by: Don WinnerThe murder of the former governor of Cocle Dario Fernandez was an assassination ordered by a Colombian drug trafficker who paid $35,000 for the hit, according to statements by a witness who is being protected by the Public Ministry. The witness, who testified before an investigating judge of Cocle on 1 June 2012 and again yesterday, said he knows about what happened due to statements made by the murderer, Miguel Ángel Arner, alias Pícoro. In this version, Arner was hired by people close to the drug trafficking, who he did not identify, and in turn he hired Joel Guerra (to do the job). Both were paid $15,000 dollars.
According to the witness, Arner and Guerra went to Penonomé in a Mitsubishi Eclipse sedan in order to kill Fernandez, and there they were received by Nelson Cubillas, alias "Fello," in the home of his girlfriend, alias "China." After that meeting, the group went to the radio station owned by Fernandez, Mi Preferida, and while "Fello" remained outside watching while "China", Guerra, and Arner entered the radio station. Because the former governor was not there, they went to his house guided by "China", and in the vicinity of Dario Fernandez's house they split up. "China" and Guerra served as lookouts, while Arner stood outside nearby.
At this point in the story, the witness did not specify the location of "Fello" or the driver of the car, whose name was not made known to the authorities, or at least it was not included in the transcript of his statement, to which this newspaper (La Prensa) had access. Anyway, he said when "China" saw that Fernandez was approaching the house together with his wife and one of his sons, she signaled Arner to ready the weapon. He took a risk, approached the former governor and shot him twice in the head.
Upon seeing what had happened, Fernandez's son chased Arner for a moment, but Arner shot at him and forced him to take cover behind a car, and Arner took advantage of the distraction to leave the area through an alley known as the Perra Brava. According to the witness, the group then went to a pasture "beyond Anton" and boarded a helicopter bound for the capital (Panama City.) "China," "Fello," Arner and Guerra boarded the helicopter, while the driver of the Eclipse drove it back to town. Upon arriving in Panama City, Arner and Guerra received their pay, and as he told the story "Fello" and "China" received another $20,000 dollars.
The reason why Fernandez was killed has to do, according to this whole story, we because he signed an eviction order for some land in the Northern part of the province of Cocle, where the Colombian introduced drug shipments into the country. The land, according to the witness, bordered a river and they used this to introduce the drug shipments. Although the Public Ministry witness provides no details of when Fernandez ordered the eviction from this land, it follows that it must have occurred when he was the governor of Cocle during the administration of Martin Torrijos, between 2004 and 2009.
In connection with the murder weapon, Arner told the witness he had hidden ("encaletado") the weapon at a site that only he and a young man nicknamed "Gordito" knew about, but when he was asked the reasons for the latter, after being apprehended as a suspect in January of this year, the boy told him he had moved it to a site in Arraiján and later he lost track of it. The statements of this witness also shows that Arner, Guerra, and "Gordito" belonged to a gang named Los Barracudos, which operates in Santa Ana and whose leader, Carlos Emilio Bárcenas, alias "Calito Sida", was shot last Tuesday in the sector of Los Llanos de Felipillo, in the township of 24 de Diciembre.
According to the story of the witness, "Calito Sida" had faced off with "Fello" after the murder of Fernandez and threatened to retaliate against him if he "got his (friends) in trouble." Official records show that so far in this case the following people have been arrested - Joel Guerra, charged as an offender; Miguel Ángel Arner, charged as an accomplice; Deysi Iveth Quirós Natal ("China"), also as an accomplice, and Julián Alfredo Nouvet Conte, the driver of the Eclipse vehicle. There are no reports on the location of "Fello", and the suspect who was initially detained by the authorities, Gamal Gordon, was later released. (Prensa)