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Dead bodies pile up at Tijuana's Semefo

More than 270 corpses moved to Juarez neighborhood start to smell

Semefo refrigerators' capacity of 270 bodies was surpassed. - Image by Crisstian Villicaña
Semefo refrigerators' capacity of 270 bodies was surpassed.

Once again the Forensic Medical Service of Baja California, known locally by the acronym Semefo, has been flooded with dead bodies. According to its director in Tijuana, Cesar Gonzalez, this situation has repeated since 2017 due to violence in the city. "This affects us directly because all bodies are victims of violence; we receive 15 corpses per day on average."

On August 29, the Forensic Medical Service refrigerators' capacity of 270 bodies was surpassed, and the institution decided to move 150 bodies from its building in the Juarez neighborhood, which is located near to Tijuana’s downtown on Blvd. Fundadores. They use refrigerated trailers commonly known in Tijuana as “Thermo king.”

“We’re above the national average, even more than in Mexico City. We can have a body shot in the head but it is the prosecutor's office who determine if it was a violent cause, a suicide, or even an accident.”

The bodies' relocation caused outrage within the groups in search of disappeared people. As Fernando Ortigoza, president of the Movement for The Disappeared of Baja California, said the human rights of the victims and their relatives are being violated and the government excuses its inefficiency by the fact that those persons were criminals.

“Among those criminals that will end up in massive graves, there could be people that are being sought by their children; the government has been insensible with the families. Plus, emotionally the victims' relatives are tired of looking for them, some were fathers or mothers that were the sustenance of the family, and then with bureaucracy and apathy, they end up pretty affected."

The high temperatures of Tijuana’s summers have brought the heavy smell of putrefaction to neighbors and businesses around in this heavy urbanized neighborhood. Maria de los Angeles, who lives close to the facility, mentioned that she’s planning to move out of the house because the smell, especially in hotter days, causes her headaches.

“The smells get in even through the pipes and come in the house from the sink and the toilet. It's horrible when this happens, you can't breathe not even with the masks we're currently using. One time the neighbors set up a massive billboard and hung it high in their condos, but the government didn’t even care."

The smell of bodies decomposing is an old issue for Juarez neighbors and they have asked the state government to relocate Forensic Medical Service. Its director Cesar Gonzalez said that due to the lack of budget of the institution a move is not possible.

“There’s not enough budget from the state, if it would depend on me I would do it because we are empathic with the neighbors. We have an extension of Semefo in the 'Judicial City' in La Encantada. And, even those bodies in the mass graves are being registered with their DNA and photographed, so relatives can claim them." He explained.

On the other hand, Fernando Ortigoza specified that the Semefo's photographs are not that clear for the relatives to identify the loved ones, because they are taken many hours after their death.

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Semefo refrigerators' capacity of 270 bodies was surpassed. - Image by Crisstian Villicaña
Semefo refrigerators' capacity of 270 bodies was surpassed.

Once again the Forensic Medical Service of Baja California, known locally by the acronym Semefo, has been flooded with dead bodies. According to its director in Tijuana, Cesar Gonzalez, this situation has repeated since 2017 due to violence in the city. "This affects us directly because all bodies are victims of violence; we receive 15 corpses per day on average."

On August 29, the Forensic Medical Service refrigerators' capacity of 270 bodies was surpassed, and the institution decided to move 150 bodies from its building in the Juarez neighborhood, which is located near to Tijuana’s downtown on Blvd. Fundadores. They use refrigerated trailers commonly known in Tijuana as “Thermo king.”

“We’re above the national average, even more than in Mexico City. We can have a body shot in the head but it is the prosecutor's office who determine if it was a violent cause, a suicide, or even an accident.”

The bodies' relocation caused outrage within the groups in search of disappeared people. As Fernando Ortigoza, president of the Movement for The Disappeared of Baja California, said the human rights of the victims and their relatives are being violated and the government excuses its inefficiency by the fact that those persons were criminals.

“Among those criminals that will end up in massive graves, there could be people that are being sought by their children; the government has been insensible with the families. Plus, emotionally the victims' relatives are tired of looking for them, some were fathers or mothers that were the sustenance of the family, and then with bureaucracy and apathy, they end up pretty affected."

The high temperatures of Tijuana’s summers have brought the heavy smell of putrefaction to neighbors and businesses around in this heavy urbanized neighborhood. Maria de los Angeles, who lives close to the facility, mentioned that she’s planning to move out of the house because the smell, especially in hotter days, causes her headaches.

“The smells get in even through the pipes and come in the house from the sink and the toilet. It's horrible when this happens, you can't breathe not even with the masks we're currently using. One time the neighbors set up a massive billboard and hung it high in their condos, but the government didn’t even care."

The smell of bodies decomposing is an old issue for Juarez neighbors and they have asked the state government to relocate Forensic Medical Service. Its director Cesar Gonzalez said that due to the lack of budget of the institution a move is not possible.

“There’s not enough budget from the state, if it would depend on me I would do it because we are empathic with the neighbors. We have an extension of Semefo in the 'Judicial City' in La Encantada. And, even those bodies in the mass graves are being registered with their DNA and photographed, so relatives can claim them." He explained.

On the other hand, Fernando Ortigoza specified that the Semefo's photographs are not that clear for the relatives to identify the loved ones, because they are taken many hours after their death.

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