About Puerto Rico:
Potential visitors to Puerto Rico are at times concerned about news reports of violence and criminal activity in Puerto Rico. While it is true that crime statistics are high, there is very little need for concern from tourists and other visitors. Most of the criminal activity that takes place in Puerto Rico is either passional or drug-related. Violence does not extend into ordinary life.
Drug traffic is responsible for most of the violent crimes in Puerto Rico, as is also the case throughout the United States of America and in most other countries. In Puerto Rico, drug-related violence is mostly related to drug lords shooting each other over control of drug points.
Drug offenses are penalized heavily. Any substance which is illegal under United States laws will generally be illegal in Puerto Rico also. During 1994, Puerto Rico was declared a zone of great incidence of drug traffic, a political action that represents additional federal aid from the United States of America to fight drug traffic crime.
Passionate crimes are frequent. Many of them are a direct result of the machista (male chauvinist) traditions of Latin Americans.
Opposing political parties have at times accused government authorities of misrepresenting crime statistics for political (and tourist) purposes.
The San Juan Metropolitan area compares in criminal activity to any large city in the United States. A visitor should feel as safe in San Juan as in New York City, Chicago, Miami or Cincinnati. Visitors who keep themselves within the main tourist areas enjoy the benefits of additional police protection, generally by English-speaking policemen specially trained to deal with tourists and their needs.
Visitors should observe the same precautionary measures that would apply anywhere else: Lock your cars. Do not leave visible objects in your parked vehicles. Stay away from dark, isolated areas. Do not carry a lot of parcels. Do not wear expensive jewelry as you stroll around the streets.
If you are residing in Puerto Rico: get to know your neighbors. Exchange telephone numbers with them for emergencies. Have emergency phone numbers on hand (nearest police precinct, fire station, civil defense. 9-1-1 service is available islandwide. However, this service has been the subject of much criticism from disappointed users.
For many years, Puerto Rico has been under a special monitoring program ordered by the Federal District Court for Puerto Rico. A court-appointed monitor oversees compliance with a court order to Puerto Rican authorities to limit the number of people in jail so as not to exceed the capacity of such jails. Heavy penalties have been imposed throughout the years on the Puerto Rican government for noncompliance. The issue has been the subject of much debate. Available choices include sending some prisoners to United States jails; paroling or otherwise reducing the prison stays for some convicts; bailing out some prisoners under a Commonwealth Law that permits the government to provide bail for certain prisoners; noncompliance and payment of heavy fines (in millions of dollars).
Crime may be defined as any violation of the law. Many Federal laws apply in Puerto Rico, in addition to Commonwealth laws and municipal ordnances and regulations.
Organized crime is not known to exist in Puerto Rico in the sense of Mafia families, the organization or any such groups.
In the 1980's organized crime was very strong in Puerto Rico. The "Families" were called "Grupos". They had a "Boss" and others who were members. One of the most powerful "Grupos" was in Bayamon. This "Grupo" was associated with the Gambino Crime Family of New York. High ranking Police Officers , such as Los Hermanos Arsola were members and many lawyers and "respectable" businessmen.
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