HomeNewsArgentina's Monos May Thrive with Leader in Jail for Decades
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Argentina's Monos May Thrive with Leader in Jail for Decades

ARGENTINA / 4 OCT 2021 BY ALICIA FLÓREZ AND LAURA NATHALIA ÁVILA EN

The Monos, Argentina's leading criminal organization, know how to roll with the punches. And while their leader faces a total of 84 years in prison, the group's grip on the city of Rosario is unlikely to loosen.

On September 30, Monos leader Máximo Ariel Cantero, alias "Guille," was sentenced to 22 years in prison for ordering a 2018 series of attacks against the homes and offices of judicial officials in Rosario.

Cantero's last sentencing came in 2020 when he was condemned to another six years and eight months for making threats against a judge after he was denied a prison transfer.

SEE ALSO: Monos Profile

In this latest trial, six other members of the gang were sentenced alongside Cantero, for carrying out at least seven attacks targeting judges, prosecutors and witnesses involved in a 2018 criminal case against the gang. They were all sentenced to between six and 20 years in prison.

Founded by the Cantero family over two decades ago, the Monos are a unique group in Argentina for their use of violence and control of multiple criminal economies. Their base of operations is the city of Rosario, a northern port in Argentina, and a strategic point for drug trafficking from Bolivia and Paraguay. The gang's roots began in microtrafficking but expanded rapidly into extortion, money laundering and even running illegal casinos.

InSight Crime Analysis

Cantero's most recent sentencing appears to show that the usual tactic of threatening judicial officials is not working. At the same time, he has been in jail for several years already and the Monos' criminal activities have not ceased.

In 2018, a significant part of the Cantero clan and their allies were sent to prison as the result of a historic trial in Rosario. It was hoped this would essentially break the group. However, Guille Cantero has used different strategies to maintain his grip, from hiring visitors to send messages to the outside to having his own phone line inside his prison cell.

SEE ALSO: The Trial of the Monos: Historic Blow to Argentina’s Underworld?

The Monos have long been recognized for their alliances with security forces, officials within the penitentiary system, and connections to economic and political elites within Rosario.

The group has continued to cultivate these relationships from behind bars, enabling the gang to maintain its control over the streets of Rosario.

And Cantero's ability to use violence to send a message has not weakened either. While the Monos have not claimed responsibility for this, a wave of murders hit Rosario in September just as the new trial against Cantero and other Monos members began.

While Cantero is in jail in Buenos Aires, if current conditions remain the same, the Monos' power in Rosario is likely to remain intact.

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