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Metro Murders on the Rise

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Happy New Year: Homicides are on the rise in Miami-Dade County!

According to Metro Dade and city police statistics through Dec. 28, 165 people were killed in 2006. Compare that with 2005 - when 120 people were killed - and you have a 37 percent increase in homicides. (These numbers only include those two police jurisdictions; other county municipalities aren't included).

This mirrors a national trend - homicides are at their highest levels in a decade in many U.S. cities. New York's homicides, for example, are up 10 percent. Chicago's are up 3.3 percent. Oakland, California has increased by a whopping 57 percent.

Miami Police spokesman Delrish Moss has an explanation for this year's increase: 2005 was a particularly safe year, the lowest on record for homicides.

"When we finished with 56 last year, our jaws dropped," he said. "Now, in 2006, we're back to average. Seventy-seven homicides is about average."

Moss said that turf wars between gangs in the northern part of the city, family fights and the proliferation of assault rifles are the main cause of the bloodshed in 2006.

Before you think that Miami is a lawless pit of scum a la Rep. Tom Tancredo (who said that Miami is the most violent city in the nation), consider this: in 1981, Miami had 681 murders, or about two per day. -Tamara Lush

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