Brazilian authorities are closer to finding the gunman responsible for the March 2018 execution of left-wing activist Marielle Franco.

Six witnesses identified a corrupt former police officer as the killer, according to The Intercept. The man’s name was not released due to the ongoing investigation. The former officer was a member of Rio’s Military Police force until he was forced out due to his organized crime connections.

The assassin was reportedly hired using the deep web, according to The Brazilian Report. Deep web users go the unlisted part of the internet to solicit services for crimes including hitmen, illegal weapons and human trafficking.

The alleged shooter currently works full-time as an assassin for hire. The witnesses claim he did not act alone, and authorities believe the accomplices are also former police officers. All of the suspects were members of Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE), a special unit formed in 1978 to handle hostage situations and other rescues.

Many BOPE officers have alleged connections to criminal organizations and use the skills they learned in training to carry out illegal deeds. The main suspect is an ex-captain who was connected to organized crime before his enlistment.

The attention to detail in Franco’s murder points to involvement from these corrupt officers. The murderers used a “ghost weapon” to carry out the execution. A ghost weapon is a gun seized during a drug trafficking raid. They are supposed to be warehoused in a facility, but some of them are stolen and stockpiled by corrupt law enforcement personnel.

The area where Franco was killed was specifically chosen, and cameras at a nearby gas station were disabled. This allowed the assassin to pull up next to Franco’s car and unload several rounds undetected. Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes were killed instantly.

No arrests have been made, but newly elected Governor Wilson Witzel promised justice.

“The Marielle Franco case is indeed close to an ending,” he said. “I can’t legally look at the documents, which are sealed. But the information that I have is that the prison of the criminals involved could happen still in January.”

Months after the 38-year-old's assassination, LGBT student activist Matheusa Passarelli was gunned down in Rio de Janeiro. As Blavity previously reported, police have identified the 21-year-old's killers as drug traffickers Genilson Madson Dias Pereira, the GG, and Messias Gomes Teixeira, the Ugly. 

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