Mexican authorities uncovered more than 60 bodies in an abandoned crematorium near Acapulco, officials said Friday. Investigators are examining the cause of death and potential links to organized violence, but the state prosecutor’s office also is opening a line of inquiry into possible fraud by the funeral home.
The funeral home, Cremaciones Pacifico, shut down last May. Authorities from Guerrero state reportedly discovered the decomposing corpses after responding to a complaint about a foul odor at the site. The bodies were reportedly covered with lime to temper the smell. Officials haven’t determined how long the bodies may have been in the crematorium.
Men, women and children were among the corpses found, the state attorney general’s office said Friday, all in various states of decomposition. Investigators haven’t ruled out links to organized crime, but they are also looking into the possibility that funeral home operators may have taken in bodies for cremation and then abandoned them, an employee of the prosecutor’s office said, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities said they asked the state funeral home association to provide a list of names of everyone who had been sent to a crematorium in the past two years, and to turn over contracts between funeral services and Cremaciones Pacifico. Failing to properly cremate bodies violates federal, state and municipal sanitation standards, the state attorney general told Reuters.
Mexico’s southern Guerrero state has developed a reputation as a hotbed of organized crime and links between drug cartels and local security forces. Acapulco is about 124 miles from Iguala, the town where 43 students from a teacher’s training college clashed with police and then went missing in September. The disappearances, allegedly at the hands of a local gang working with police and the Iguala mayor, stoked nationwide fury and mass protests over the security policies of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto. The monthslong search for the students turned up mass graves filled with unidentified corpses thought to have been killed by organized crime groups.