Four people from a funeral parlor in Valencia have been arrested for stealing bodies from morgues. It mainly concerned the bodies of people without families. The bodies were sold by the body dealers to a private university.
The National Police has dismantled a criminal network in Valencia that was involved in the illegal sale of corpses. The network forged documents to remove the bodies from hospitals and nursing homes. The bodies were then sold for €1,200 each to a private university, which used them for study purposes. According to police, the criminal gang charged the university €5,040 for the cremation of 11 bodies after investigation. These transactions cannot be found in the administration of the crematoria in the city.
Spanish suspects forged documents
The detainees are four men between 41 and 74 years old and of Spanish descent. One of the men has a criminal record, according to the National Police. The men have been released for the time being. The investigation into the criminal network began in 2023, when police discovered that a body had been unlawfully taken from a hospital mortuary by an undertaker. The company had committed forgery in the mortuary register and the civil registry.
After an extensive investigation, it turned out that two employees of the funeral home had taken the body with false papers and transferred it to a university for examination instead of burying it. The deceased should have been buried at his place of residence. However, the body was sold for almost €1,200 for study purposes without the permission of a family member or friend.
Confused man donates body to science
In a similar case, the deceased was picked up from a nursing home. However, it appears that the man had given permission to donate his body for scientific purposes three days before his death. Research shows that the man suffered from severe cognitive impairment before his death and did not have the mental capacity to understand what the donation entailed. Moreover, his body was taken to a different faculty than agreed, because more was paid. To get the body there, the criminals tricked health staff into changing its destination.
Suspects preferred to choose foreigners
The suspects focused on deceased persons without family, preferably foreigners or people in precarious circumstances. This way there was a good chance that no inquiries would be made by family members.
Universities paid for cremation that never took place
Police also discovered irregularities in the final cremation of the bodies supposedly donated to science. Apparently the universities had to pay for the cremations performed by the funeral home itself. The suspected body dealers allegedly divided the bodies into pieces and added them to the coffins of other deceased persons. For example, multiple bodies were cremated in one cremation at no extra cost. Despite this, they made the university pay for each cremation, which generated significant profits.
University of Valencia not affected
The University of Valencia (UV) has assured that it has not been affected by the criminal organisation of body traffickers. Their Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry does not buy corpses, but accepts ‘living donations’ under strict conditions. In a statement, the UV said it “works with safe protocols” when accepting donations and will only reimburse transport costs to the faculty. The university receives on average between 40 and 50 bodies.
The police have arrested those responsible for the funeral home and two employees on suspicion of fraud. Two of them are also accused of forgery.