Latest Facts

A Small Florida Town is Suddenly the Second-ranked Murder Capital in State.

Known for its bright theme parks, sunny beaches, and rich cultural diversity, Florida also has a darker side. It has beautiful scenery and a lot to offer tourists, but it also has some violent and criminal areas. Among these, Pahokee, a community that seems inconspicuous, has recently drawn attention. This small rural village in Palm Beach County, home to just 6,000 people, has suddenly become the second most hazardous area in the state.

The Troubled Past of Pahokee

Poverty and Unemployment

Pahokee has experienced persistent financial difficulties. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pahokee has an astounding 40.9% poverty rate, which is more than twice the state average. Just $26,731 is the typical household income, which is less than half of Florida’s average. With 10.6% unemployment, it is still far higher than the state average of 4.8%. The town’s violent and criminal cultures have been cultivated by these severe circumstances.

Alarming Crime Rates

The FBI’s 2019 data presents a dismal image. With 2,025.6 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, Pahokee has the second-highest violent crime rate in the state, only topped by Florida City. Remarkably, with 11 homicides that year, Pahokee also claimed the dubious distinction of having the highest murder rate in the state of Florida. In comparison to the national average of 5 murders per 100,000 people, this amounts to an astounding 183.3 murders per 100,000 people.

Factors Fueling Violence

Gang Activity and Drug Trafficking

Drug-related violence has increased in Pahokee because of its close proximity to Lake Okeechobee, a significant hub for drug smuggling from Mexico and Central America. Within its borders, gangs operate, feeding the cycle of violence.

Neighborhood Rivalries

Historically, hostilities have resulted in shootings and murders between communities like Muck City and the Ridge. The rivalries in the town make the already violent environment worse.

Limited Law Enforcement Resources

There is a serious lack of law enforcement officers in Pahokee. It becomes difficult to keep the peace when there are just 12 officers covering the whole town.

Signs of Hope

Grants for Economic Development

Though the numbers seem dismal, there are pockets of optimism. Pahokee has been awarded funding by the federal and state governments for public safety, infrastructure development, and economic development. For example:

  • A $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will upgrade the water and sewer system.
  • A $500,000 grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity aims to revitalize the downtown area and create jobs.

Community Initiatives

Local groups that are made up of nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and community leaders are working ceaselessly, such as the Pawokee Promise coalition. Their goal is to help families and young people who are at danger by offering them assistance, education, and mentoring.


The dramatic change of Pahokee from a sleepy village to a hub of criminal activity highlights the critical need for focused interventions. Even while problems still exist, there is hope because of the town’s resiliency and community-driven initiatives. Pahokee aspires to a better, more affluent future while simultaneously addressing its turbulent history.

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