Deadly slum under motorway where houses are caged and rents £30 a month

A slum in South America's biggest country sees people openly take cocaine with rent costing just £30 a month.

Villa 31 is built beneath a massive motorway that cuts through Argentina's Buenos Aires. Roads are simply too dangerous for outsiders.

Documentary-maker Nick from Indigo Traveller went there to find out the truth about the most dangerous place in Argentina, where apartments can be rented for as little as £30 a month.

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As he enters Villa 31, he says “you can definitely feel the atmosphere starting to change, it’s a sketchy feeling”. Most of the city’s 16million or so inhabitants would never dare go there.

Some buildings, which are occupied by local gangsters, are completely encased in metal cages to deter intruders. He continued: “I’ve been around the world, in all kinds of different neighbourhoods and I've never seen quite such high security as this.

Much of his tour is on the back of a motorbike. “It’s best to bike through these areas, so you can get away quickly if anything happens,” he explains. Even so, there are some streets that Nick’s guide tells him it’s safest to avoid.

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When the motorway was built, some residents were told to move out but others stayed put and a few houses actually have the huge concrete flyover cutting through their walls.

Nick’s guide Lenny says: “The highway must be very loud in there. I can’t imagine what it would be like living there and have all the cars passing all the time… I hope they don’t have a crash”.

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Most locals don’t pay for their utilities. “They just hijack the power so nobody pays for electricity…” One local woman, named Maria, bought her three-roomed apartment for $50,000.

Maria, like many of the residents of Villa 31, is from neighbouring Bolivia. She says she moved to Argentina to escape a violent husband.

She says she doesn’t pay for her water or electricity but Maria’s house, like many others in Villa 31, is at the top of a rickety iron staircase that looks set to collapse at any minute.

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Javier, a fireman from the neighbourhood’s little prefab fire station, says that while there are a few fires to deal with most of his time is taken up dealing with people that have fallen from the buildings. “Two or three people” fall from the buildings every day, Javier says.

Another Villa 31 resident, Druben, happily admitted to being a former bank robber. He's currently sleeping rough in the slum, after serving a lengthy prison sentence.

His body is covered in tattoos – he even has his mother's name inked on his forehead. He told Nick that the mark on his cheek marks him out as a thief, so that he can be recognised by fellow thieves.

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Druben says he used to stage machine gun raids on security vans, but was arrested in 2009 after being involved shootout in which a police officer was killed. After being released from jail, he says, he has found God and is trying to make the world a better place.

Like a lot of run down neighbourhoods, most of the people are pretty warm and welcoming, Nick says, but there’s an undercurrent of danger in Villa 31 that makes some parts of the neighbourhood complete no-go areas.

The Argentine authorities have tried more than once to clear the slum, and rehouse the people living there, but many are suspicious of the government’s motives. And there’s a sizeable percentage of people living in Vila 31 who are happier living outside the law.

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