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ARGENTINA | 02-03-2023 12:07

Shots fired, threats left at supermarket belonging to Messi's wife's family

Narco violence in Rosario escalates as supermarket belonging to the family of Antonela Rocuzzo, the wife of Lionel Messi, was hit by a mafia-style attack in the early hours of Thursday morning.

A supermarket belonging to the family of Antonela Rocuzzo, wife of Lionel Messi, was shot at in the early hours of Thursday morning, with the assailants leaving behind a threatening message aimed at the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"Messi, we are waiting for you. Javkin is a narco, he won't take care of you," read the handwritten message on a piece of paper by the men who shot 14 bullets into the supermarket's metallic façade.

The message alludes to Rosario Mayor Pablo Javkin, who went to the scene after police arrived.

Javkin confirmed the supermarket belonged to the family of Antonela Roccuzzo, who shares three children with the football superstar, and said the aim of the attack was to "to create chaos in the city."

"Here, what's sought is the repercussion, it's perfidious," he said. "What story goes more quickly viral in the world than an attack on Messi?"

According to initial reports, the incident occurred at around 3am local time, with 14 bullets striking the metal shutters of the family-owned Supermercado Único on Lavalle 2554. Security cameras show two people travelling on a motorbike when one of them got off and fired the shots.

"This has been going on for some time," said Javkin. "We have five security forces operating in Rosario yet they can do this because nobody is chasing them."

The deputy chief of Regional Unit 2 of the Rosario police, Iván González, posited that the note "is not a threat" but rather an act "to draw attention."

The police chief confirmed to Cadena 3 radio station that "no people were injured because at the time the premises were vacant."

Rosario, a port city on the Paraná river, has gradually become a nerve centre for drug-trafficking and the most violent city in Argentina, with 287 murders in 2022.

Mayor Javkin, Santa Fe Province Governor Omar Perotti and the national government regularly swap the responsibility for counter-narcotics measures and the use of the city's security forces to each other.

At a meeting this week between the municipal, provincial and national security forces, provincial minister Claudio Brilloni said he had "urged the federal forces to greater collaboration, engagement and participation" in the fight against violence and criminality in Rosario.

Among the right-wing opposition, two declared candidates for October's presidential election called for help from the military police to fight drug-trafficking in Rosario.

"The situation is complicated in Rosario... the narcos have won," said Security Minister Anibal Fernandez.

 

Javkin speaks out

"This has been going on for quite some time," confessed Javkin on Thursday. "We have five security forces acting in Rosario and yet they can do this because nobody is pursuing them," he complained, saying that the attack on Messi's in-laws "seeks to create chaos in the city."

The mayor praised the Roccuzzo family, confirming he had spoken with José Roccuzzo after the incident occurred, commending them for being hard workers in the town. He then turned to criticise the security forces in the city, as well as the national government, who are responsible for them.

"This has to be a limit, let's not let them soil Rosario so easily," he said, calling for more action by the security forces, who he suggested are linked to the attacks.

"Every time we demand something concrete and direct, these actions appear. I don't have to explain to you the mixed network that these actions have between the forces, the police, gangs; everything is mixed together. But they are not going to run me off, we cannot allow them to do any damage," Javkin said on Radio 2. He continued: "We have six (security) forces in Rosario, where are they? How many incidents have there been in that area, 15 or 16, where are they?"

Angrily, the mayor of Rosario turned his attention to the national government, confirming that he had spoken on the phone with Minister Fernández, and also with Governor Perotti, both from the Frente de Todos. He called for the representatives to come to the city, along with President Alberto Fernández.

"I want them here. The governor told me he was coming. I want you here. How far is the President from here? Half an hour? Come here," he demanded.

"I am the mayor of the city. Let's be clear: I don't run the security forces. And when I asked, they wouldn't let me. So, those who have responsibility, let them come here."

Javkin added: "It is very clear that it is easy to harm Rosario and that there is not a damn bit of concrete help."

"This is more serious than the elections. Here it's all about money, narco-crime, the drug economy," he surmised.


 

–– TIMES/AFP/PERFIL

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