On March 25, 2021, agents of the Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) arrested one of the pilots most wanted by the United States, identified as Ronier Sánchez or Ronier Sánchez Alonso, alias Rony.
“He is a 44-year-old Mexican national who is responsible for smuggling large volumes of drugs into the United States, at the service of Mexican and Colombian cartels,” SENAD said in a statement.
Authorities arrested Sánchez Alonso at an apartment hotel in Asunción’s Mburucuja neighborhood. According to Paraguay’s Office of the Attorney General, an arrest warrant issued by a U.S. court in the District of Connecticut, for crimes related to international drug trafficking, prompted the detention.
“The successful operation was carried out jointly with the SENAD Sensitive Investigation Unit, its special operations forces, and Interpol agents,” the Office of the Attorney General reported.
“[It was] effective international coordination against crime,” SENAD said.
The investigation revealed that Sánchez Alonso was first in Brazil and then traveled to Paraguay using a forged passport. He allegedly entered via the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport on March 22, the Paraguayan newspaper ABC reported.
Unlike narco-pilots in the region, who tend to use light aircraft, Sánchez Alonso used a jet. That enabled him to transport 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms of drugs per flight, the Paraguayan newspaper Última Hora said.
The fugitive intended to buy a jet in Asunción to continue trafficking, SENAD said.
Paraguayan authorities reported that Sánchez Alonso had been a fugitive since 2016, when he made a forced landing in Venezuela with about 2 tons of cocaine on board.
“Sánchez Alonso allegedly managed to evade the armed forces of that country [Venezuela] and escape, with the help of drug cartels,” the Office of the Attorney General said.
Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez celebrated the capture. “SENAD just arrested one of the U.S. justice system’s most wanted drug pilots,” Abdo said on Twitter on March 25. “[The pilot] has an arrest and extradition warrant.”