Puerto Rico on Course for Record-Breaking Murder Rate in 2011

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Puerto Rico has registered 901 homicides in 2011, putting it on track to surpass 1994’s record for the highest murder rate in recent history.

The Los Angeles Herald Tribune reported that Puerto Rico saw 10 murders over the weekend, bringing the total this year to 901.

Law enforcement officials characterize 75 percent of Puerto Rico’s homicides as drug-related, and blame increasing violence on the islands on a struggle between local traffickers for control of the growing domestic consumption market.

Violence and criminality are on the rise on the island, which has long been used as a transshipment point for traffickers moving drugs from South America to the US. Although the importance of the overseas route through Puerto Rico may have diminished, international efforts to disrupt overland routes through Mexico could explain the apparent spike in drugs and weapons trafficking in the U.S. territory.

Puerto Rico’s police have faced charges of widespread corruption and misconduct in recent years and, although authorities are in the process of reforming and modernizing the institution, there is concern that it is ill-equipped to confront the threat from drug-related crime and violence.

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