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Capture of Monos’ Young Blood Shows Criminal Lineage of Argentina’s Premier Gang

The capture of a young member of the Cantero family, leaders of the Monos, underlines their persistence in Argentina.

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The capture of an 18-year-old member of the Cantero family, which leads the Monos gang in Rosario, Argentina, has underlined the generational influence the gang has in a city now racing towards an unwelcome homicide record.

Dylan Cantero was captured by police authorities in Rosario on September 26 while attempting to flee his home via the roof during a raid by security forces, according to local media. Another 13 alleged members of the Monos were arrested alongside Cantero, with authorities carrying out almost 80 raids in parallel across the city.

The youngest member of the Cantero crime family, Dylan comes from an extensive line of close-knit operators leading Argentina’s foremost drug trafficking organization. Ariel Máximo Cantero, alias “El Viejo,” started the organization in the late 1990s, when he began managing marijuana smuggling into Argentina from Paraguay.

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Dylan’s capture takes place as Rosario looks likely to surpass its record homicide rate. So far this year, the city has registered 221 murders, according to the Argentine newspaper La Nación. If murders keep rising at the current pace, killings in 2022 will beat the record of 262 murders set in 2013.

InSight Crime Analysis

The capture of a younger member of the Monos’ family leadership underlines the gang’s persistence in retaining control over their Rosario domain.

Violence, perpetrated against rival gangs, judicial officials, and even treasonous gang members is a favored tool of the Cantero family when trying to retain their hold on Rosario’s underworld.

Other criminal groups including their main rivals, Clan Alvarado, do exist in the city. But historically, the Monos have been the city’s dominant criminal group, showing a sound ability to adapt — and to respond — when confronted by rivals or authorities. The Cantero’s lineage is the central aspect of the Monos’ durability.

Dylan’s father, El Viejo, was first arrested in 1999 on drug charges, and eventually convicted as a gang member in 2018. He was then released in 2020 only to be rearrested in 2022 for allegedly planning attacks against gas stations and primary schools.

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During his first stints in prison, El Viejo delegated responsibility throughout the family and to close friends. Leadership on the outside was effectively passed to his eldest son, Ariel Cantero, alias “Guille.” 

For his part in the Monos’ illegal undertakings, Guille was sentenced to 22 years in prison in September 2021. But through alliances with corrupt prison officials and members of the security forces, Guille has continued to direct the gang from prison. Indeed, he was so well-protected by prison staff that a landline telephone was put in his cell, with no conversations monitored or recorded from it. After the discovery of the telephone, it was removed, only to be replaced and found once again.

Dylan Cantero has already earned his stripes in the Monos, having been shot in the leg in 2020. The attack against him sparked renewed violence as the Monos responded, and ultimately led to the city closing the year with 212 homicides, the worst level in five years, wrote the media outlet Clarín.

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