A fugitive and former mixed-martial-arts fighter known as “The Panther” — who allegedly ducked U.S. authorities seven years ago to start a new life in Canada — was detained by Miami authorities after he was accused of playing a role in a man's mutilation and murder.
Ariel Gandulla, 51, was “voluntarily detained” and escorted back to Florida on Tuesday, September 24, by law enforcement officers, a Miami-Dade State Attorney spokesman told Oxygen.com.
He is expected to appear in Miami-Dade Criminal Court on Friday and be formally charged for allegedly taking part in the 2011 slaying of Camilo Salazar.
Gandulla is suspected to have joined three other men who brutally kidnapped and killed 43-year-old Salazar back in June 2011.
The man’s remains were discovered dumped on a West Miami-Dade dirt road, with his hands tied behind his back, his throat slashed, and his groin scorched, according to The Miami Herald.
Investigators believe Gandulla had partaken in the kidnapping and killing of Salazar under the direction of Presidente supermarket chain scion Manuel Marin. Salazar's murder was suspected to be a direct reprisal for his affair with Marin’s wife.
“The facts of this case are like that of a bad Hollywood movie — wealth, infidelity, rage, conspiracy, and murder,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told reporters during a press conference last year.
Another former MMA fighter and Cuban boxer, Alexis Vila Perdomo, and his friend Roberto Isaac are also accused of participating in the murder and have been arrested.
Both men’s trials are set to get under way in October.
In April 2018, prosecutors initially charged Gandulla with second-degree murder and kidnapping, linking him to Salazar’s murder through cell phone records and a man's fingerprint left on the victim’s car, which allegedly belongs to Gandulla according to a 2018 arrest warrant.
Gandulla’s most recent arrest warrant remains sealed pending his arraignment, court officials said. He faces kidnapping and multiple murder and conspiracy charges, according to jail records.
Like Gandulla, who left for Canada, Marin quickly fled Florida for Spain around the time that Salazar was killed, according to The Miami Herald.
Last year, Marin was captured and extradited back to Miami-Dade County and hit with kidnapping and murder charges, The Miami Herald reports. Marin's son, Yiddiel Marin, who's accused of funding his father's lifestyle while he was on the lam, was also taken into custody at that time and held in lieu of a $2 million bond.
“Yaddiel Marin has continually since Manuel Marin’s disappearance provided him assistance and has assisted in keeping his whereabouts a secret,” Miami-Dade homicide Sgt. Douglas McCoy stated in an arrest warrant.
Gandulla has been competing in MMA since 2015, racking up a 7 win and 9 loss record, according to the MMA website Sherdog.com.
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