A police officer detains a man suspected of having participated in a homicide in Rosario, Argentina, on December 12. Rodrigo Abd (AP)
Argentine teenager William Agustín Rillos was shot dead in the chest on Tuesday in front of the door of his house in the city of Rosario. On Monday, Óscar Alberto Sosa, 63, was fatally shot twice in the head. On Saturday, Miguel Ángel Gómez, 51, was executed after getting out of the car a few steps from his home. That same day, Brian Tolosa, 24, was killed by a shot to the chest in the middle of an argument with his assailant. Last week, Débora Andino, 31 years old and six months pregnant, was also shot in the head by unknown assailants. They are five of the 21 homicides perpetrated so far this year in Rosario, the third Argentine city and the most violent. Most of the crimes are linked to settling scores between drug gangs.
In 2021, 241 murders were recorded in Rosario, one every 36 hours on average, the highest figure since 2015. But this year has started even worse in Lionel Messi’s hometown: a crime every 31 hours. The violent deaths have been accompanied by threats against prosecutors and police officers that have sparked widespread rejection by society and new calls to curb organized crime.
The MPA expresses its strongest repudiation of the intimidating expressions made against prosecutor Matías Edery in the framework of a hearing that took place at the Criminal Justice Center of the city of Rosario. pic.twitter.com/xYfij4q2bk
— Public Ministry of the Accusation (@mpa_santafe) January 23, 2022
“Son of a bitch, this is not going to stay like this,” Lorena Verdún, widow of one of Rosario’s great drug lords, told prosecutor Matías Edery last Friday at the end of a hearing in which preventive detention was ordered against her and others. accused. Claudius’s widow Bird Cantero has already been sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering and drug trafficking, but was released because the sentence is not yet final. Her situation changed on January 18, when she was arrested by the police during a search of her home, in which they found an undeclared weapon and a large sum of money. The operation included twenty raids in the La Granada neighborhood, including the home of Verdun’s son, Uriel Luciano Fought, in which more than twenty pistols and ammunition were found.
“We cannot see the threats as an isolated event, from a person who was surrounded by a criminal charge. It is part of something much more complex, which the institutions of the province have to take seriously and face. Who threatens is part of a group that has been in Rosario for twenty years. That is why the best support for us is that we all understand that organized crime must be ended and that there is no organized crime without state participation. In Santa Fe, we show that with evidence,” prosecutor Luis Schiappa Pietra, who is part of the Complex Crimes Investigation Unit with Edery, told local media.
the bird Cantero, murdered in 2013, was the leader of the Los Monos criminal gang, the bloodiest in Rosario. After his death, in a reckoning, other members of the family have kept the organization alive, although most of its members are imprisoned or are being investigated by the courts.
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“We must deepen investigations against organized crime in its various forms, from the violence that is seen in the streets and is generated by the mafia groups that we have been investigating, to crimes against the environment, gender and illicit financial circuits” Schiappa Pietra added.
Violence began to grow in Rosario at the end of the 1990s, when the boom in soybeans exported from the ports of this city, located 300 kilometers west of Buenos Aires, also started. Today, Rosario has the highest homicide rate in the entire country, close to 20 per 100,000 inhabitants, when the country’s average is less than 7 per 100,000. “The homicides are concentrated in some neighborhoods, in 15% of the territory, but the phenomenon of drug sales covers the entire city because there are middle-class, upper-class clientele, and the money is channeled through traditional financial structures that they are in other neighborhoods,” says former Santa Fe Security Minister Marcelo Saín.
For Saín, the violence in Rosario has as its structural basis a society plagued by illegal practices and in which it is legitimate to resolve conflicts violently. Criminals are not afraid to expose themselves on armed networks, as happened last year when Fought Cantero, 19, was shown with weapons along with the rapper Zaramay. The fragmentation of the criminal gangs as of 2013 and the lack of police control over the territory explain, in his opinion, a large part of the crimes.
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