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Argentina's Most Violent City Has Its Own ‘Guns for Sale’ Facebook Group

The Rosario Guns For Sale group allows 580 members to shop for revolvers and bullets. A recent killing of a 12-year-old "little soldier" has refocused attention on Rosario's rampant drug violence.
Captura de pantalla vía Facebook

Just about anyone with a Facebook account could get their hands on a gun in the city of Rosario, Argentina. One need only type these magic words: Rosario Guns For Sale.

"Selling and trading of arms, just for connoisseurs. Price, caliber, and zone. No fighting or swear words allowed," reads the description of an active Facebook group in Rosario. It allows members to buy and sell pistols, revolvers, bullets, and here and there, a rifle.

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The online market exists despite the fact that gun sales are strictly regulated in Argentina. "Any cheap 22 pistol, talk in private," read a message posted just on Saturday morning.

Rosario, Argentina's third largest city, is suffering elevated drug-related violence, leading some to declare it the center of a drug war in South America's second largest economy. The homicide rate in Rosario is five times higher than the national average.

Inside the Rosario Guns For Sale group, more than 580 members can purchase a wide variety of "commodities," including several types of bullets, as well as 0.22- and 0.38-caliber handguns. Homemade arms and knives are a common find. One member offers a radio scanner to listen to police frequencies, for about $50.

"I sell a short, six-shot 22-caliber. It works perfectly. Also a hardly used 5.5 rifle. Make good offers or I'll keep them," Marcelo Carlos Quintero, a member of the group, says in one offer.

This single-shot pistol is up for grabs on the Rosario Guns for Sale group on Facebook. (Screenshot via Facebook)

Drug violence in Rosario, subject of a 2014 VICE News documentary, is characterized by the use of young drug-runners and assassins called "soldaditos," or little soldiers, and the widespread presence of "bunkers," fortified drug-selling depots set all over Rosario's poor neighborhoods to dispense small doses of marijuana and cocaine.

Yet the Rosario gun-selling group is not just about making acquisitions. Several of its members use the group's wall to call for freedom for the Canteros, the tight-knit mafia family who lead Los Monos, Rosario's most powerful narco organization.

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Several Canteros are currently facing charges of criminal association and drug trafficking.

Related: Watch 'Rosario: Violence, Drugs, and Football'

The recent killing of a 12-year-old boy in Rosario has refocused attention on the city's drug violence.

On May 11, the 12-year-old named Rolando Adrian Mansilla was shot in his left-eye and twice in the leg while guarding a bunker from the balcony of an abandoned house. The child, armed with a revolver, managed to shoot back at attackers on two motorcycles below, but later died, as a "little soldier."

The bunker where Mansilla died had been shut down by authorities on several occasions. One took place in 2014, in a joint operation between Argentina's Naval Prefecture and the national secretary of security, Sergio Berni. Neighbors had blocked the bunker's doors in an attempt to prevent criminals from reclaiming it.

"We don't watch action films on TV anymore," a neighbor of the Ludueña borough of Rosario told local newspaper La Capital. "We lookout the window and see how two or three [people] come and shoot at the bunker's door."

Related: Los Monos: The Drug Gang of Rosario, Argentina's Most Violent City