SAN JUAN – The crime wave devastating Puerto Rico left 19 dead over the weekend, police said Monday.
The murders occurred immediately after the Friday visit to San Juan of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano came to Puerto Rico after the island’s government demanded that Washington impose tougher measures to control the increase in drug trafficking, which authorities here blame for the sharp rise in murders over the past few years.
The secretary acknowledged in San Juan that Puerto Rico is suffering an unacceptable level of violence and said that measures will be taken to control the problem, though she added that no details will be announced so as not to alert the international drug rings operating in the area.
She said that the two interrelated problems plaguing Puerto Rico are drug-trafficking plus money laundering, and the violence inflicted by local criminal outfits.
Napolitano said that the increase in aid being provided to the Mexican border area does not mean that resources are being withdrawn from the Caribbean, explaining that concrete strategies exist for each of the two areas.
Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño said that during his meeting with Napolitano he told her that if Miami or New York had the Caribbean island’s crime rate it would be a national scandal.
The worst incident over the weekend happened in the southeastern Puerto Rican town of Cayey, where three people were killed in a shootout, while a fourth person wounded in the shooting died the following day.
The 19 homicides over the weekend raise to 518 the number of violent deaths so far this year, 100 more than during the same period in 2011. EFE