Semefo personnel at work in Guerrero. Semefo personnel at work in Guerrero.

Bodies are too many, supplies are too few

Forensic personnel in Guerrero don't have the supplies or facilities to meet demand

Forensic staff at the Guerrero Attorney General’s office have had to deal with over 760 bodies this year — all victims of violent crimes — but they don’t enough supplies or facilities to deal with them all.

With almost 62 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, the state had the second highest homicide rate in Mexico last year, second only to Colima, which recorded almost 82 per 100,000.

Guerrero’s three forensic units, in the municipalities of Chilpancingo, Iguala and Acapulco, have to attend on average to at least 10 bodies a day, all victims of violence, plus those who have died of other causes, and it’s putting a strain on resources.

The 90 forensic field agents whose job is to retrieve the corpses lack protective latex gloves, suits and masks and even bags in which to transport the bodies, which are sometimes found dismembered.

And there’s transportation. The agents often have to use taxis to get to the scene of a crime and then ask relatives, friends or colleagues for help in transporting their gruesome cargo back to the Forensic Medical Service office, called Semefo.

Then they must make do with the storage facilities that are available. In the Chilpancingo Semefo office there are only two cold chambers with enough space to store 150 bodies.

Staff who spoke under condition of anonymity with the newspaper Reforma revealed that both chambers have been in need of maintenance since late last year, and that corpses are being stored at the wrong temperature.

Agents from Semefo and the Attorney General’s office said that the number of corpses received at the Chilpancingo facility is so high that senior officials have authorized that some 60 be “stored” in bags and deposited on the floor.

The 270 forensic staff would not only like to have sufficient supplies but better pay — monthly salaries range between 10,000 and 12,000 pesos (US $530 to $640) — and better working conditions, too, and have complained formally to the state Attorney General.

Washrooms are out of order, mattresses provided for the night shift are old and unusable and sleeping quarters lack mosquito nets.

“Flies from the autopsy room get into the bedrooms,” said one staff member.

He added that fuel coupons are only handed out to senior officials and chosen staff members.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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