Wherever the trailer went, someone had a problem with it.
As authorities tried to park a large truck in various locations in the suburbs of the Mexican city of Guadalajara, residents began to complain. At first, a local mayor claimed it was parked illegally, prompting authorities to move it.
But then residents near its new location were so perturbed by the stench emanating from it that they, too, demanded that the trailer be sent somewhere else.
It turns out that there was good reason for the strong smell, and for neighbors' anger over the trailer being parked near them: Officials were using the truck as a makeshift morgue, reportedly holding about 100 corpses that couldn’t fit anywhere else.
Patricia Jiménez, who lives in one of the areas where the trailer was parked, told Reuters that it “affects our kids, it smells horrible and the longer it stays it’s going to stink even worse.”
“We have a lot of children in this neighborhood … it could make us all sick,” José Luis Tovar, another resident, told the BBC.
So on Monday, authorities moved it yet again, to a warehouse in Guadalajara, Reuters reported.
Local media reports initially put the number of corpses at more than 150, but later reports said it may have been more like 100. Officials have told media outlets that the bodies belong to victims of organized crime and that they didn’t have anywhere else to put them.
“We ran out of cemetery plots where we could bury them,” said Luis Octavio Cotero, head of the Jalisco Forensics Institute, according to the BBC.
But Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Jalisco’s governor had fired Cotero after complaints about the trailer, accusing him of “indolence and negligence.” Cotero insisted he had long warned that the morgue would reach capacity.
About 30,000 homicides were recorded in Mexico last year, and suburbs near Guadalajara, where the trailer has been parked, have experienced a surge of violence. The Guardian reported that in July 2018 alone, Mexico recorded 2,599 homicides — the most to occur in a month since the government started keeping count. Much of the violence is related to drug cartels. Such violence has claimed about 200,000 lives in Mexico in recent years.
Roberto López, the state’s general secretary, told Mexican media outlets that he was aware that the use of a trailer as a morgue was disrespectful. But López said there were few other options until a new morgue that is being built is ready to hold the bodies. “When it is built, these bodies will be transferred,” he told reporters.
But it could be more than a month until the new morgue is ready, and the wait is not sitting well with residents.
“We don’t want it here,” Tovar told the BBC, referring to the trailer. “They need to put it somewhere else. It stinks.”
Still, state officials are left with few choices when the number of homicides keeps rising.
One inspector for the Jalisco human rights commission told the AP “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.”