The murder rate is spiking in Puerto Rico, and authorities cite drug trafficking, gangs and carjackings, reports the New York Times. Residents are applying for gun permits in larger numbers, and some say they are contemplating moves to the mainland. So far this year, there have been 525 murders in Puerto Rico, outpacing last year's 983 homicides, the second-highest ever. New York City, with twice the population of Puerto Rico, reported 199 murders through the middle of this month, with a total of 536 in 2010.
High murder rates are not unusual in Puerto Rico. Between 1980 to 2005 the average annual homicide rate was 19 per 100,000 in Puerto Rico and 8 per 100,000 on the mainland. José Figueroa Sancha, a former FBI agent who is now superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police Department, said the 17,000-member force (second largest in the country, after New York's) is now using CompStat, a computer system for tracking crime patterns that was first used successfully in New York City. Last year, Gov. Luis Fortuño deployed the National Guard to try to curb the killings, a tactic used in the early 1990s. But the extra patrols proved ineffective.