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Jail inmate charged with scheme to kill wife

Federal sting uncovers plot

Guillermo Frederico Vasco didn't just want his estranged wife dead; he wanted her body never to be found, according to a federal affidavit. He found a hit man who said he would put the body in an oil drum drilled with holes, fill it with cement, and drop it in the ocean.

''I think I like that idea," Vasco said, according to the affidavit.

The elaborate plot was laid bare after an unusual sting in which an undercover agent sealed the deal in a jailhouse visit, and the estranged wife posed as a murder victim to convince Vasco that the deed had been done.

Now Vasco, formerly of Peabody, faces federal murder-for-hire charges along with the aggravated rape, kidnapping, and home invasion charges. He is being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility.

It started when Vasco, 30, allegedly asked a fellow inmate if he knew anyone who would kill his wife for money, according to a federal affidavit. The inmate said he could find someone and then went to authorities, who set up a sting, according to US Attorney Michael Sullivan's office.

Agents for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the inmate to encourage Vasco to send a letter with instructions to Mike in Portland, Maine. Mike's address was actually a post office box that the ATF rented, according to the affidavit.

In early April, Vasco allegedly sent a letter in which he used coded language, referring to his wife as a dog named Nickie and their daughter as Nickie's puppy named Candy. Soon after receiving the letter, the undercover agent arranged to meet with Vasco at the jail.

Vasco told the agent he wanted the body to disappear after the killing, and the agent outlined his plan with the oil drum. Vasco said he also wanted the hit man to kidnap Vasco's daughter and take her to Vasco's mother in Ecuador.

The murder would cost $10,000 and the kidnapping an additional $10,000, the agent told Vasco. Vasco accepted the terms and confirmed the agreement in subsequent phone conversations, according to the affidavit.

Wearing makeup to look as if she had been beaten and shot in the head, the wife posed for photos. When the undercover agent described the murder, Vasco was ''smiling."

At the end of that meeting, Vasco thanked the agent, and according to the affidavit said: ''Finally, it's the final stage and you did a good job. I just wish I could see that, I mean be there."

When the agent told Vasco he made sure the woman knew the killing was from him, he thanked him again. ''And you have my friendship, my loyalty, my respect," he said, according to the affidavit. A second undercover agent met with a lawyer for Vasco, who allegedly paid the fees.

If convicted, Vasco faces up to 10 years in prison, three years' probation, and a $250,000 fine.

Scott Goldstein can be reached at sgoldstein@globe.com.

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