MEXICO CITY — Overcrowding at morgues in Mexico’s western state of Jalisco led authorities to store 157 unidentified bodies in a refrigerated truck near the city of Guadalajara, but complaints about the smell prompted an investigation Monday.
Neighbors’ complaints about the truck caused authorities to change its location several times. It went from a morgue parking lot to another government-run lot, before it finally wound up in a field behind a housing development.
“This is a demonstration of insensitivity on the part of some public servants,” said Roberto Lopez Lara, the Jalisco state interior secretary. He said the truck would be moved back to the morgue and an investigation would be carried out to see who made the decision.
While refrigeration can slow the decomposition of bodies, many of the corpses had been recovered from clandestine graves in the state and are already rotted, officials said.
Javier Perlasca, an inspector for the state human rights commission, said that “this was a mistake … and it is bothering the neighbors” as well as causing pain for victims’ families.
“It is time to end these comings and goings that only outrage and hurt people,” Perlasca said, adding that the bodies should be given a decent burial.
State and local authorities have struggled as an unprecedented number of bodies pile up from Mexico’s rising tide of violence. Officials recorded 16,339 homicides across Mexico In the first seven months of this year, an increase of 17 percent from the same period of 2017.
Morgues in several states have run out of room. Last year, employees at prosecutors’ offices near a morgue in the southern state of Guerrero said they had stopped work because of the smell, and the chief prosecutor for the Gulf state of Veracruz said some clandestine graves were not being investigated “because we don’t have space to put the bodies that we might find.”
In Jalisco, Perlasca said, “the physical space to keep the bodies of the dead has been outstripped … given that every day they are finding bodies in different places, in clandestine graves, shot dead in the street, etcetera.”