SAN JUAN – Four people were killed and another wounded in a running gunfight on the Jose de Diego highway, Puerto Rican police said Wednesday.
More than 100 shell casings were recovered at the scene of the Tuesday night shootout, including some from an AK-47 assault rifle, according to the police report.
The first multiple murder of 2013 in Puerto Rico took place on Feb. 21 in the eastern district of Canovanas, leaving three people ages 16 to 29 dead.
Less than two weeks later, three young men were murdered in another incident.
The third multiple murder, in which three more people died, came on March 3 in San Juan’s Barrio Obrero neighborhood.
Puerto Rico for years has been beset by a crime wave linked to drug trafficking that every weekend results in an average of 10 murders, the majority of them involving score-settling between groups of criminals warring over control of street-corner sales.
The increase in pressure from U.S. authorities on the Mexican border has diverted smuggling routes to the Caribbean and especially to Puerto Rico, from where the drugs can more easily be shipped to the continental United States.
A portion of the drugs remains in Puerto Rico for internal consumption, and small-time traffickers fight each other for control of the sale of cocaine, heroin and other illegal substances. EFE