San Juan – A bloody weekend with a drive-by massacre of four people and assorted other violent incidents in which a total of 25 people died is the latest result of the crime wave besetting Puerto Rico.
The head of operations for the Puerto Rican police, Col. Leovigildo Vazquez, admitted Monday the worrisome security situation facing the island.
"People are taking justice into their own hands," he said after announcing the death of one person who a few hours before had murdered his former girlfriend and her father.
The seemingly unstoppable crime wave that takes more and more victims every day was - however - quite unusual last weekend with the high death tally, and added to the 25 people who were killed were three others who died in the early hours of Monday and thus were not included in the weekend toll.
Police reported that so far this year there have been 555 violent deaths in the U.S. commonwealth, 97 more than had been tallied by the same date last year.
The weekend's most shocking incident took place Saturday night in San Juan's Rio Piedras district when an automobile with several gunmen inside approached a business estblishment and the men opened fire at the people gathered there, killing four.
Noting the shooters' use of AK-47 assault rifles and the prior drug arrests of three of the four victims, police suggested the killings were an act of score-settling between rival drug gangs.
The Rio Piedras massacre somewhat overshadowed a double-murder committed Saturday night in the Hato Rey neighborhood of the Puerto Rican capital.
The metropolitan area of San Juan was the zone suffering the most on the weekend, with 13 of the 25 killings.
Puerto Rican officials blame an ongoing turf war among drug dealers for most of the average of 10 homicides reported every weekend.
Authorities have boosted the number of police on the street and even deployed the National Guard, but none of the additional security measures has done anything to diminish the violence.
The latest U.N. Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems says that Puerto Rico ranks eighth worldwide in the ratio of police officers to total population.
The 597 officers deployed for every 100,000 residents in Puerto Rico, nevertheless, have not managed to quell the ongoing violence on the island.