Mexico fires Jalisco morgue director after complaints of 157 bodies kept in truck

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The governor of Jalisco has fired the director of the state morgue after a refrigerated truck carrying 157 unidentified bodies drew complaints.

The governor of the western Mexico state of Jalisco has fired the director of the state morgue after a refrigerated truck carrying 157 unidentified bodies drew complaints from neighbors over the smell.

The ousted director of the Jalisco Forensics Institute told local media Tuesday that two trucks had been rented to hold bodies from the overflowing morgue. Luis Octavio Cotero said he'd warned two years ago the morgue couldn't handle the number of bodies from Mexico's rising wave of homicides.

Cotero denied he made the decision to order one of the trucks out of the morgue parking lot. That truck was driven between parking lots and finally a vacant field in the Guadalajara area. In each case, neighbors' complaints forced it to move.

"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."
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