Crime & Justice

Argentine gov’t: Battling organized crime in Rosario an urgent priority

Buenos Aires, Mar 8 (EFE).- Argentina’s security minister on Wednesday underscored the pressing importance of battling organized crime in Rosario and putting an end to a drug trafficking-fueled wave of violence.

Speaking at a ceremony in that northeastern city to unveil an increased presence of federal forces and the arrival of the army corps of engineers, Anibal Fernandez said the government is now moving to strike at the heart of a problem that has long afflicted the local population.

Accompanied by the governor of Santa Fe province (where Rosario is located), Omar Perotti, and Rosario Mayor Pablo Javkin, Fernandez urged judges and prosecutors to conduct any raids necessary to break the power of the organized crime gangs that dominate Argentina’s third-largest city.

During the ceremony, held in the presence of hundreds of recently arrived federal forces, Fernandez and Perotti signed an agreement on cooperation between the national and provincial governments.

That accord is aimed, among other things, at preventing the potential international travel of suspected criminals.

A thorough effort will be needed to turn around a city hard-hit by violence and “strike at the root” of the crime gangs, Fernandez said, noting that investigators will need to “follow the (organized crime) money trail.”

“That’s what we’ve come to do, to work tirelessly and without restrictions to get to the bottom of this matter,” said the minister, who stressed the need to ensure people can once again feel safe walking the streets.

Fernandez also referred to Sunday’s death of an 11-year-old boy during a gunfire attack on a birthday party, saying he felt “ashamed” at having no answers for the slain child’s family.

On Tuesday, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez gave the go-ahead to increase the number of federal forces in Rosario to 1,400 and for the deployment there of the army corps of engineers, whose main task will be to accelerate urban development projects in the city’s slums.

A total of 65 people have been shot and killed thus far in 2023 in Rosario amid a turf war involving rival gangs.

Although Rosario has been plagued for years by violence attributed to drug traffickers, the city’s problems became international news on March 2 when shots were fired in the wee hours at a supermarket run by the in-laws of soccer great Lionel Messi.

No one was hurt in the incident, in which the attackers left a threatening message addressed to the star: “Messi we are expecting you, (Rosario Mayor Pablo) Javkin is also a narco, he won’t protect you.”

Though Messi has spent his entire professional career abroad, playing 17 years with Barcelona before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, he makes frequent visits to his home town and was in Rosario for Christmas after leading Argentina to victory in the 2022 World Cup.

Two days later, the death of the 11-year-old boy sparked the ire of local residents and family members, who looted and destroyed the house of the alleged shooter after he was arrested by police. EFE


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