In Peru, People are Reportedly Being Killed for Their Body Fat

I’m always a little disappointed that what most foreigners hear about Peru are stories like this one.  There are a lot of good things that happen in Peru too (as well as in most countries).

Nonetheless,  according to the Associated Press:

A gang in the remote Peruvian jungle has been killing people for their fat, police charged Thursday, draining it from their corpses and offering it on the black market for use in cosmetics… Three suspects have confessed to killing five people for their fat, said Col. Jorge Mejia, chief of Peru’s anti-kidnapping police. He said the suspects, two of whom were arrested carrying bottles of liquid fat, told police it was worth $60,000 a gallon ($15,000 a liter)… Mejia said the suspects told police the fat was sold to intermediaries in Lima, the Peruvian capital. While police suspect the fat was sold to cosmetic companies in Europe, he could not confirm any sales… Medical experts expressed doubt about an international black market for human fat, though it does have cosmetic applications.

Since I live in Peru, I have some mixed feelings about this news. First, is it really true? Where the people who were killed fat? Or were they just gullible or unlucky? And if people were receiving $60,000 a gallon, what were they spending it on? The article goes on to add these gruesome and intriguing details:

Mejia said Castillejos confessed that the gang would cut off its victims’ heads, arms and legs, remove the organs, then suspend the torsos from hooks above candles that warmed the flesh as the fat dripped into tubs below.

Six members of the gang remain at large, Mejia said, adding that in addition to the five killings the suspects confessed to, the gang may be involved in dozens more. Castillejos told police that the band’s fugitive leader, 56-year-old Hilario Cudena, has been killing to extract fat from victims for more than three decades.

At least 60 people are listed as missing in Huanuco province, where the gang allegedly operated, this year alone, though the province is also home to drug-trafficking leftist rebels.

I wonder if these people who were caught are actually just using this body fat story as an elaborate cover up for their involvement in the drug trade.

And someone killing people for three decades for body fat? This detail seems the most suspect to me.

Image courtesy of Llaves on Flickr

One thought on “In Peru, People are Reportedly Being Killed for Their Body Fat

  1. This is an awful story, especially if it is true.

    What I want to know is how someone decided human body fat would be a good ingredient for cosmetics?

    And with all the fat people in the U.S., has anyone here/there been targeted?

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