Woman Says She Didn't Set Herself on Fire or Shoot Her Ex-Husband, Blames Drug Cartel
Last updated 6/9/2023 at 12:34am
SPRING HILL – Last year, 43-year-old Maranda Luciano was arrested and charged with Attempted Second-Degree Murder, after officials say she shot her ex-husband at their home on Nantucket Lane. But Luciano says she had nothing to do with the shooting and that there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye.
According to the Hernando County Sheriff's office, Deputies responded to 6074 Nantucket Lane on May 22, 2022, after the victim called 911 to report that he had been shot. The victim, Jeff Luciano, claims Maranda shot him several times after an argument during a card game. Jeff says he escaped to the back yard of the residence and then later fled to nearby street where he called 911. Jeff did not suffer life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital shortly after the incident.
Maranda's sister-in-law Jackie Reyes and her fiancé Shan Iqbal witnessed the incident and corroborated the victim's story, but Maranda says it's all a lie, and that members of a Colombian drug cartel attempted to kill her to prevent her from testifying.
Maranda tells R News that Iqbal is involved in drug trafficking and has ties to the cartel. She believes Iqbal is the one who shot Jeff, due to an argument they had over a drug transaction or other related matter. Maranda says Reyes is controlled and abused by Iqbal and will say anything to avoid being injured or killed.
Reports suggest that Iqbal and Reyes fled the scene after the shooting and didn't meet with law enforcement until long after the incident. Maranda believes Jeff may have been afraid of Iqbal and blamed her for the shooting.
The firearm was never recovered, and no one was tested for gunshot residue after the shooting, says Maranda.
After she was released on bond, Maranda sought protection at a local domestic violence shelter, Dawn Center, where she stayed from July through August. Friends and family say they lost contact with Maranda around September 10th, but on September 12th, Maranda was found unresponsive in the front yard of a residence on Northvale Street with severe burns to approximately 50% of her body. Maranda nearly died and suffered two strokes before doctors were able to stabilize her condition.
After a brief investigation, Maranda says Detectives advised that they believe she set herself on fire. Maranda vehemently denies setting herself on fire and tried to explain to detectives that Iqbal, or someone associated with the cartel is responsible for trying to kill her. Maranda says they are no longer investigating her claims.
Maranda says she has no memory of the shooting or being burned, and believes Iqbal or Jeff drugged her before each incident. Maranda claims she doesn't do drugs and rarely drinks alcohol. Toxicology reports after the burn incident confirm that she had no trace of any known intoxicant in her blood. Maranda believes they used Scopolamine (Devil's Breath) to incapacitate her prior to the shooting and when she was burned. According to studies, the substance has been blamed for thousands of crimes throughout South America, specifically by drug cartels. There are numerous accounts of the drug being used by human traffickers to incapacitate women and children, because it removes a person's inhibitions, and they essentially become slaves to their captors. Scopolamine is very hard to detect because the body metabolizes the drug within a few days.
Iqbal, Reyes, and Jeff Luciano all fled the state after the shooting and are not cooperating with investigators. Maranda says Jeff opened 7 credit card accounts in her name and charged over $20,000, stole over $8,000 in cash, and took 5 of her dogs, worth over $35,000. Maranda also discovered that Jeff took out three life insurance policies prior to ether incident.
Maranda is due back in court on March 31, 2023, for a pretrial hearing with Brooksville Attorney Ashley Aulls.
The Sheriff's Office has not responded to our request for comment.
R News will continue to cover any new developments in this case.