The burgeoning crime wave in Puerto Rico has taken the lives of 11 people in the last 24 hours, which brings the number of violent deaths on the Caribbean island to 771 so far this year, 110 more than in the same period of 2010.

Police particularly mentioned the double murder Thursday night in Peñuelas, a municipality on the island's south coast, where two people died in an incident presumably related to a santeria ritual.

The chief investigator of the Ponce region, Capt. Diosdado Perez, said that the two victims, a 35-year-old man and a woman of 38, were slain in a shootout.

Perez said that the shots were aimed at Julio Enrique Quiñones and that the woman, Maria Luz Figueroa, was hit because she was standing next to the man on premises where a santeria ritual was being performed.

Seriously injured in the incident were another two people who remain hospitalized in the town of Yauco.

The list of homicides over the last 24 hours includes other deaths in Salinas, a municipality in southern Puerto Rico, and in Piñones, near the capital city.

The number of murders in Puerto Rico has continued to surge in recent months, which brought about the resignation of Jose Figueroa Sancha as police commissioner at the beginning of July.

Some of the slayings that occur daily in Puerto Rico are the result of turf wars between gangs fighting for control of drug points of sale.

In December 2009 police launched an operation to dismantle drug-trafficking organizations, which to date has succeeded in eliminating close to 300 points of sale for narcotics and the arrest of more than 1,000 people.