The crime wave continued to rise in Puerto Rico with a long Thanksgiving weekend that left nearly a score of people dead on the Caribbean island, where the homicide rate is more than 20 for every 100,000 inhabitants.

The weekend death toll and the recent murder here of retired boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho brings to the fore once more the drama of violence in the streets of Puerto Rico.

The latest homicides raise to 858 the number of violent deaths so far in 2012, which, with a little more than a month to go, is fulfilling predictions of having less than the 1,136 murders in 2011, the bloodiest in Puerto Rico since 1940.

The latest slayings were scattered throughout Puerto Rican territory, crimes repeating the modus operadi of automatic weapons fired from moving cars in attacks authorities describe as drug-related.

El Nuevo Dia newspaper recalled Monday that since 1993 a total of 16,478 people have been killed in Puerto Rico, a sum equal to the populations of some towns on the Caribbean island.

The United Nations published in 2011 a study of homicides in the world that said Puerto Rico had a rate of 30.5 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, in stark contrast to the approximately 5 in the United States.

Most of the killings took place in the most densely populated districts of San Juan, Caguas, Carolina, Ponce and Bayamon.

Bayamon is precisely where ex-world champion Camacho was gunned down, and where the person with him in the car riddled with machine-gun bullets, Alberto Yamil Mojica, had a record of drug offenses.

The principal cause of the spike in Puerto Rican crime is the increasing use of the Caribbean corridor for shipping cocaine to the United States.

American authorities' pressure on the Mexican border has led drug traffickers to switch to the Caribbean and especially to Puerto Rico as an alternative route for bringing cocaine into the United States. EFE