Homicide in Puerto Rico Peer Reviewed Journal

Homicide in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been showing a higher number of Homicides in past two decades. Recently, its homicidal number is found to be 50% more than the Mainland figure. The main reasons identified are presence of gangs involved in drug and ammunition trafficking and domestic violence.

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Analysis of the Possible Causes

Presence of Gangs

Economic Deprivation

Self-Defense Mechanism


Domestic Violence

Drug Trafficking

Gender Inequality

Theoretical Implications

Puerto Rico has been the hub of major homicides in United States in the past decade. Where New York has shown the homicidal number of 600 casualties; the number reflecting statistics in Puerto Rico was almost 50% higher as compared to the statistics of 2003. In 2012, the similar statistics for homicides have reached 900. In order to combat this issue, it is necessary that the possible causes for this wave of violence should be identified (Godoy, 2008).

Puerto Rico has been a major residential area of Hispanic community. Due to its easy route availability to mainland, low prices, better tourist attractions and other amiable factors, it is also an ideal destination for the feudal gangs who wish to have a suitable neighborhood as their territorial jurisdiction offering an inlet into the Mainland.

During the analysis performed regarding the violent homicidal activities taking place in the land, various factors contributing to this situation were identified.

Where presence of feudal drug gangs was found to be the main reason, there were some other factors contributing to the strength of these gangs. Mainly presence of corrupt officials, poor infrastructure, extremely low employment rate, failure of government to promulgate lawfulness in the territory, low tolerance to feminist and gay regime were found to be the causative agents giving rise to the strong gangs’ control over the area.

Analysis of the Possible Causes

There has been consent in scholars that it is the mental health problem which is triggering the violence in Puerto Rico giving rise to drug trafficking. The first wave of violence was observed in between 1920 to 1945 which was the initial homicidal episode in the region. Up till 1970, a stability of law and order was observed. However, later on, there has been a gradual increase in violence and high crime rates since then. From 2003 till now, the homicide rate has increased its optimum level. As compared to the mainland, Puerto Rico is demonstrating a leading figure in crimes.

Presence of Gangs

Where we have established that it is the strength borne by the Feudal drug gangs which has introduced the gun culture in the region, other factors contributing to it would be mishandling of health programs, ignorance towards child abuse and related crimes and failure of the main government to intervene into metropolitan government and acting as the sovereign force has introduced corruption into the overall system.

There are various cases where the government officials have been observed supporting the drug gangs.

Economic Deprivation

A careful selection of facts would help in reaching the root causes of the problems emerging on the surface. Demographic and sociological conditions can also be used as an indicative factor leading to this violence. Unemployment and absence of basic infrastructure and other Research and development programs along with the lack of support from the mainland government are the visible variable factors which have been identified as the reason why the youngsters and teenagers give preference to joining the gangs which are emerging as the major identity of this land (MMWR, 2006).

Self-Defense Mechanism

Other than the mini episodes of violence in between these gangs, it is important to note that it is the innocent citizens who are engulfed by the violent activities of these gangs giving rise to the higher rate of casualties. Usually, it is the cross-fire in which innocent public are killed. Secondly, self-defense is another variable which has appeared to play a visible role. Since the law enforcing agencies have been found to be rather feeble in the region, the citizens have been using ammunition which is rather easily available in Puerto Rico for self-defense. Once used for self-defense, it is difficult to provide a logical demarcation in between protection of one’s self and attacking other for personal pleasure.

Where the feudal gangs form a rather small part of the population, it is the instability of family structure mainly affected by economic deprivation giving rise to killing of the family members.


Depression seems to be the common problem in many Puerto Ricans since higher the crime rate, higher is the rate of broken families caused by divorces and separations in between parents or heads of the families. The society of Puerto Rico is showing an exponential speed on its way to e called as the most criminalized society as most of the criminal offences are committed by the youngsters and teenagers who form the basis for any society. This is found in the statistics of crime rate on the island, as it has reflected a greater number of crimes in the six municipalities that make up the metropolitan area these are: San Juan, Bayamon, Carolina, Catano, Guaynabo, and Trujillo Alto.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence and drug trafficking has been identified as the main reasons for the high homicidal rate in Puerto Rico. Where the main metropolitan is the major affected area, the wave of violence is also being transmitted to peripheral regions as well. This perspective needs to remain intact throughout the research that economic factors are causing the distress in general public which is affecting the domestic stability. As a resultant, domestic violence and strength of criminal gangs.

Drug Trafficking

Illicit drug trafficking and the easy presence of ammunition has been attracting other personnel with criminal portfolio to this region. It is the weak law and order situation which is not only giving rise to the local feudal lords having ethnic roots ruling the metropolitan and peripheral regions but also the incomings from other parts of U.S. As well. Agitated behavior in the young generation is clearly visible due to weak domestic bonds and economic disparity which either forces them to join gang wars or opt for becoming the drug addict themselves. There have been instances where homicide victims have been murdered in the hands of their own family members.

Gender Inequality

In addition to the economic deprivation and general depression, it is the gender inequality which has given rise to further homicidal instances. The society of Puerto Rico considers the women as the deprived and undermined part of the society as compared to being a partner or an equal contributor. Gender-driven power regime has caused the homicide of many women in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, women have been also found to be the patient of depression using violence as their self-defense. This is the reason why bodies of few homicide victims have found to be mutilated so that they should be seen as an example to those who believe in being proactive and standing up to injustice.

Furthermore, the increasing rate of corruption is also making major contributions to the context of criminalization in Puerto Rico. Corruption can be seen as the global phenomenon which has controlled almost every aspect of one’s life from personal ideology and relations to governmental structures as well. However, it is handled differently in various sectors. Unfortunately in Puerto Rico, law enforcing agencies have turned into protective organizations of the Feudal gangs and are paying practically no heed to making the situation better for general public.

Hence, there are various factors causing major discrepancies in the legal structure of Puerto Rico. This is the reason why domestic violence, emergence of criminal activities and overwhelming power borne by feudal gangs is causing the rate of homicides to rise at an exponential rate.

Theoretical Implications

As far as the theoretical view of homicide is concerned, the Homicide design theory presents a clear rationale for current violent wave of violation in Puerto Rico (Buss & Dentley, 2011). The theoretical model of criminology defines how the fitness benefits of killing have a dominant effect as compared to the related cost. It is proposed that humans have evolved a number of distinct, context-sensitive psychological mechanisms devoted to homicide. We propose that these mechanisms are triggered by a delimited set of circumstances, and that they are designed to produce the death of conspecifics. A host of beneficial consequences, in the currency of fitness, historically flowed to killers as a result of murdering in some contexts (Buss & Duntley, 1998, 1999; Duntley & Buss, 1998, 1999).

The theory further defines that instances beyond human control are not always the causative agents of the possible homicides i.e. murders are not always caused by slips, accidents, etc. Rather they are governed by schematic pattern or the designs which are used to plot a murder. The theory further defines the basic benefits which trigger one to kill somebody. These reasons and benefits keeps on varying dependent on the personnel involved and the circumstances in which they are operating. Our history of evolution also provides a premise for this theory to operate.

One of the possible benefits is the elimination of a competitor claiming power in the region. This benefit is commonly witnessed as the reason for violence in Puerto Rico where inter-gang wars are the most common scenarios having a lethal effect on those involved and also on general public giving rise to a considerably higher rate of homicide. Secondly, gaining access to the resources of others is also the benefit which is the most sought one. The design theory further illustrates that Gaining access to a rival’s fertile mates is a benefit that triggers competitors to commit a murder. In case of Puerto Rico where women are seen as a commodity instead of equal partner, acquiring the women of the rival can add more panache to the profile of those committing homicide.

Having a huge profile of homicide also helps in cultivating a status which shuns any exploitation and reduces the chances of any challenges from the competitors. Another important benefit is protecting oneself from exploitation, injury, rape, or death at the hands of others. In our history of evolution, we human, have faced the choice of staying alive or killing somebody rather frequently. This situations still prevails when we discuss the scenario of Puerto Rico. Self-defense has been one of the vital factors causing homicide This reason is largely used by gangs, as well as common citizens as well.

Another benefit which is offered by this theoretical model is protecting one’s family and relatives from any exploitation. Since law enforcing agencies have failed to perform their part, therefore the inhabitants of Puerto Rico have been forced to take their safety in their own hands and acts as required for their well-being. The theory further suggests that protecting existing resources such as territory, shelter, and food sources is another benefit offered by homicide. These reasons act as the source of survival in general society and Puerto Rico is no different. Eliminating resource-absorbing or costly conspecifics that do not contain copies of one’s genesis some of many benefits offered by this theoretical model. Ignoring the element of step children, we can relate this benefit to the existence of relatives who require monetary and emotional investment from us without offering sufficient returns. As a result, we would prefer getting rid of them instead of keeping their burden with us. This is the reason why the domestic bonds in the Puerto Rican society are at stake as they offer insufficient returns on investment.

This theory collectively defines the rationale of committing mass homicide in Puerto Rico.


In the earlier parts, we have determined the possible causes of the recent wave of violence in Puerto Rico. In the light of these identifications made after evaluating the current landscape of this region empirically and theoretically. There are various ways through which this homicidal control of population can be curtailed.

First and foremost, the main dominating factors causing this violence in Puerto Rico are the presence of Feudal gangs. These groups have been involved in gang wars which not only results in killing one’s rivals but also cause the murders of general public as well. It is necessary that these gangs and their criminal activities must be controlled. Since these gangs are well-supported by regional authorities, therefore a crack-operation involving special task force would be required. This task force and its management would not be having any prior connections with these gangs and so it will be governed by the central department only.

Secondly, another major causative agent is the inflow of criminal minds in the region. Since Puerto Rico has low law & order control as compared to the mainland, therefore, it is rather beneficial to make this place a centre of criminal activities involving drug, ammunition and human trafficking. A strict control would be required in this regard. Therefore, all the possible entrances and exits from the region should be hand over to the new recruits or the central agency instead of the regional authorities.

Thirdly, the domestic violence is also seen as the possible cause of homicides in Puerto Rico. This violence is mainly caused by the economic deprivation that this land has to go through in past few decades which makes the young generation get involved in the criminal activities. Where the authorities are required to have an action plan for the prosperity of this region, the law enforcing agencies need to society betterment programs in place which would focus on community welfare such as health workers, social workshops, settlement houses, teen courts etc. which would enforce law and stability in the society at grass root level. Furthermore, law enforcing agencies should promulgate programs which would ensure the reduction in the instances of domestic violence allowing the victim to contact the authorities even when the first instance of violence takes place.

All these measures, cumulatively, are expected to have a substantial impact on control of homicides in Puerto Rico. Although this change may not take place all of a sudden. But an initial attempt needs to be made with substantial and consistent effort in order to reap their required benefits.


Puerto Rico is acting as a Warfield for many right now. Few are fighting for their survival where the others are fighting to become more dominant. It is necessary that the intentions behind these murders are well-evaluated so that the necessary counter actions can be designed accordingly. Our preliminary research helped us analyze the possible reasons for the higher figures of homicides in the region. Presence of feudal gangs, drug trafficking, involvements of youth in violence, economic disparity, domestic instability etc. are some of the possible causes which have been identified as the triggering agents. In order to ensure that Puerto Rico flourishes as a normal society, it is important that we answer all these areas on individual basis and perform a consistent effort so that they are eliminated from their roots.


Buss, D.M., & Duntley, J. (1998). Evolved homicide modules. Paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, Davis, California, July 10.

Duntley, J.D & Buss, D.M. (2011). Homicide Adaptations. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16, pp. 399 — 410

Duntley, J.D., & Buss, D.M. (1999) The evolutionary psychology of anti-homicide: Why the mind is designed to prevent getting killed. Department of Psychology, University of Texas.

Godoy, R. (2008). Is Homicide rate in Puerto Rico is high? Homicide Studies. Sage Publications. Retrived from http://www.primerahora.com/XStatic/primerahora/docs/espanol/estudio_homicidios_pr_eeuu.pdf

MMWR. (2006). Homicides among children and young adults — Puerto Rico, 1999-2003, MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 55(13), p361. Retrived from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/20478379/homicides-among-children-young-adults-puerto-rico-1999-2003

Case Study-Puerto Rico Page 2

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