COLOMBIA — Authorities say they have identified more than 300 murders linked to gangland killings in Colombia this year.
The latest tally from the National Police, the National Prosecutor’s Office and Colombia’s Supreme Court came out Monday.
Authorities say they’re investigating more than 150 murders since April.
The new figures show a total of 3,857 murders, including 4,099 homicides.
That’s a 37% increase in the last four months of the year.
The increase is likely to be driven by the recent emergence of the “new generation of criminals,” according to National Police spokesman Jose Carlos Guzmán.
Some of the killings that have been linked to the “killer cartel” are the “most violent” of the three new groups that have sprung up since April, Guzmetan said.
In addition to the 3,500 murders reported so far this year, the country’s total murder rate is at nearly 10,000 per 100,000 residents, up from 8,800 in 2015.
The number of homicides in Colombia is now at its highest level since the country broke free from the United States-backed Castros regime in 1998, Guza says.
The Colombian government has warned that a new wave of violence could hit soon if the violence continues unabated.
Colombia is home to about 1.5 million people, about half of them poor, according to the U.S. State Department.