A spate of attacks on drug stash houses in the Argentine city of Rosario has led residents to paint messages on their buildings to say "they don't sell anything."
The messages were scrawled by three families, letting feuding drug gangs know that their building was no longer a drug stash house, El Litoral reported.
Newspaper photos showed sentences that included "here are children, friends" and "we don't sell anything." They also wrote "new owners." According to one resident, the building had been used as a drug stash house by the previous tenant.
“Here, we are a good family who don't want to sell drugs, we just want a roof for our children," said one victim of the attacks to the newspaper.
This incident comes as Rosario, long a hub for drug trafficking and extortion in Argentina, is seeing high levels of violence. On November 29, five murders were registered in under eight hours, according to police sources cited by El Litoral. The whole month of November saw 25 murders in the city, the most violent month in eight years. And this year, authorities have recorded a total of 221 homicides in the city.
InSight Crime Analysis
The desperate messages of these families are emblematic of the criminal violence in Rosario, which has spiraled out of control amid gang turf wars.
Drug stash houses, known as "bunkers," have long been used by Rosario's most powerful criminal group, the Monos, which didn't take any pains to hide them. According to an investigation by Vice, the Monos had up to 200 "semi-permanent, fixed bunkers, in plain sight of everyone, including the police."
SEE ALSO: Profile of the Monos
But in recent years, the Monos have seen their leadership challenged. Many of its foremost members, including its leader Ariel Máximo Cantero, alias "Guille," have been jailed on lengthy sentences. Cantero is facing more than 80 years behind bars after being found guilty on multiple counts of homicide, extortion, drug trafficking and other crimes.
The power vacuum has led to attempts by rival gangs, such as the Funes and the Ungaro, to claim control of microtrafficking in Rosario. Meanwhile, the Monos have looked to maintain much of their influence through violent attacks.
As a result, young men have been frequently targeted. From 2013 to 2021, a quarter of all victims of violence in the city have been men under 21 years of age, frequently due to their connections to local gangs and involvement in drug trafficking.