Trailer full of bodies causes row in Mexico

Mexican soldiers check vehicles at a checkpoint in the Guadalajara-Barra de Navidad highway during the "Jalisco operation" in Juchitlan, Jalisco State, on May 7,2015. Gang violence is common in Guadalajara. PHOTO |HECTOR GUERRERO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • State Interior Minister Roberto Lopez condemned the decision to move the bodies from place to place, and said whoever was responsible in the state government would be punished "severely."

  • "This shows the insensitivity of some officials to such a sensitive issue, especially for the families of these unclaimed bodies," he said in a press conference.

  • In Mexico, the criminal investigation code bars authorities from cremating bodies linked to violent crimes.

GUADALAJARA,

Mexican authorities were scrambling to find a parking spot Monday for a truck carrying more than 100 unidentified bodies whose fetid smell has been infuriating residents in the city of Guadalajara.

The refrigerated trailer, rented when morgues in the country's second-largest city hit full capacity, was parked for two weeks at a warehouse in the downtrodden neighbourhood of Duraznera, on the city outskirts, until residents complained of the stench and the flies it attracted.

NO CEMETRIES

The authorities then moved the truck to an empty lot in Tlajomulco, another poor neighbourhood far from the city centre, until residents there protested Saturday.

Officials then moved it to a prosecution storage facility in the city centre, where it remained parked on Monday.

"We don't want it here. They need to put it somewhere else. We have a lot of children in this neighbourhood. (The truck) stinks, it could make us all sick," said Jose Luis Tovar, who lives near the spot where it was parked in Tlajomulco.

Authorities in the western state of Jalisco said they were looking for a longer-term solution.

State Interior Minister Roberto Lopez condemned the decision to move the bodies from place to place, and said whoever was responsible in the state government would be punished "severely."

"This shows the insensitivity of some officials to such a sensitive issue, especially for the families of these unclaimed bodies," he said in a press conference.

In Mexico, the criminal investigation code bars authorities from cremating bodies linked to violent crimes.

"We ran out of cemetery plots where we could bury them," said the head of the Jalisco forensic investigators unit, Luis Octavio Cotero.

The state government is currently working on a site to bury 800 bodies outside Guadalajara, he told AFP.

28,702 HOMICIDES

The number of murder victims in Mexico has exploded in recent years.

Since the government deployed the army to fight the country's powerful drug cartels in 2006, Mexico has been hit by a wave of violence that has left more than 200,000 murders.

Last year, the country registered a record 28,702 homicides.

Mass graves are regularly discovered containing dozens or even hundreds of unidentified bodies. Nearly 4,000 such corpses have been found since 2007, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

Some of the highest-profile violence has been in Jalisco, home to the brutal Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Other states hit hard by cartel violence have also struggled with overflowing morgues in recent years, including Veracruz in the east, Guerrero in the south and Chihuahua in the north.

 

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