National Police uncover illegal corpse trade in Valencia

Arrests following funeral home fraud

Arrests following funeral home fraud. Credit: PoliciaNacional/

Police have uncovered a disturbing case where a criminal gang removed bodies from hospitals and residences to later sell them to universities for study.

In early 2023, the National Police uncovered a scheme involving the sale of dead bodies. The criminals who operated out of Valencia often targeted foreigners without family ties.

In order to get away with the scheme they forged documents to remove bodies from hospitals and residences, later selling them to universities for anatomical study, each priced at €1,200.

Irregularities found in the morgue

The investigation began when authorities learned of a body which was illegally removed from a hospital’s morgue by a funeral home.

The funeral home had manipulated its record book and provided falsified documents to the Guardia Civil. This case involved two funeral home employees who, after altering documents, transferred a body from the hospital morgue to a university instead of conducting a burial.

The deceased was supposed to have a charity funeral in his hometown, arranged by the local council, but was instead sold for almost €1,200 without any family or friend’s consent.

Targeting the vulnerable

The criminal network specifically targeted deceased individuals who had no known relatives, often preferring foreigners or those who lived in precarious living conditions.

In one instance, a man from a nursing home supposedly consented to donate his body three days before passing. However, it was later revealed that he suffered from severe cognitive impairment, which called into question the validity of his consent.

The man’s body was eventually sent to a different medical school than initially agreed upon, as it offered a higher payment.

Cremation fraud exposed

Further investigation revealed fraudulent activities in the cremation process. Once the universities had completed their studies, they then paid for the cremations, with the funeral home itself taking care of the process.

The funeral home billed one university €5,040 for 11 cremations. However, these cremations were not recorded in the invoices of any Valencia-based crematorium.

The funeral home exploited the dissection and dismemberment of the bodies to place them in the coffins of other deceased people, carrying out the cremation of several corpses in a single cremation.

In this way  they saved costs to themselves while charging the university. This practice resulted in substantial illegal profits.

The National Police arrested the funeral home’s key figures and two employees, charging them with fraud and document falsification.

This case brings to light serious ethical concerns and the need for stricter oversight in the handling of the deceased.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.