Bullet holes are pictured on a supermarket door
Bullet holes are pictured on a supermarket door that belongs to the family of Antonela Roccuzzo, wife of Lionel Messi, after two people on motorcycles attacked it and left a threatening message for Messi and the city mayor, Pablo Javkin, in Rosario, Santa Fe province, Argentina March 2, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

Rosario: In the dead of night, two men fired shots at a closed supermarket belonging to the family of Lionel Messi's wife, before leaving a threatening message on the ground aimed at the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"Messi, we're waiting for you. Javkin is a narco, he won't take care of you," said the handwritten message left on the ground by the men who shot 14 bullets into the supermarket's metallic facade in the early hours of Thursday.

Pablo Javkin is the mayor of Messi's hometown, Rosario, where the supermarket is located, some 320 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires.

Police gather outside the Unico supermarket
Police gather outside the Unico supermarket, a grocery chain owned by Lionel Messi's in-laws, after it was shot at in Rosario, Argentina, on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Image Credit: AP

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 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?"

A witness confirmed seeing the two men arrive on a motorbike just before 3:00. One of them got off, fired the shots, dropped the note and they both fled.

"This has been going on for some time," said Javkin. "We have five security forces operating in Rosario yet they can do this because no one is chasing them."

Provincial police assistant chief Ivan Gonzalez told Cadena 3 television station that the message was "not a threat" but rather an attempt to "attract attention."

He said no one was hurt since there was no one on the premises at that hour.

The prosecutor in charge of the case, Federico Rebola, told reporters that there had been no previously known threats made against the Roccuzzo family.

"We're concerned, this has a huge repercussion, we have the video images and we're looking for more cameras," he said.

Violent city

Rosario is a port city on the Parana river that has gradually become a nerve center for drug trafficking and the most violent city in Argentina, with 287 murders in 2022.

The centrist mayor, left-wing governor of Santa Fe state, Omar Perotti, and center-left national government regularly pass on 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 drug traffickers have won," said Security Minister Anibal Fernandez.