6:00 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Puerto Rico's Murder Problem

WLRN's Alicia Zuckerman speaks with Miami New Times reporter Michael E. Miller, whose article about Puerto Rico's out-sized murder rate is out this week.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the ACLU, the police are part of the problem. But changes are afoot.
Credit Dave Conner /

Fifteen thousand people are leaving Puerto Rico every year, and half of them are coming to Florida. Many are leaving because of an explosion of violence on the island. Over the last several years, the murder rate has been between five and seven times the national average. 

Miami New Times reporter Michael E. Miller traveled to Puerto Rico to find out how things got so bad. The answer? Drugs and police, says Miller. Here's what he found out

"I think... if you had 1,000 bodies piling up on the streets of pretty much anywhere else in the U.S., people would be a lot more concerned than they are." -- Miami New Times reporter Michael E. Miller

The U.S. Department of Justice found "wide-ranging and ongoing constitutional violations" by the Puerto Rican Police Department, and in December, forged an agreement to reform the department.  Puerto Rican native Hector Pesquera (currently on leave from his post as head of security for Port Miami) has temporarily taken on the police chief post. He calls the shores of Puerto Rico the United States' "third border" and says the problem isn't getting nearly the attention it deserves.