Exporting companies are using Chinese ships, planes, and trucks to transport dead Americans across the world for research purposes, according to a Thursday report from Reuters.
A Hong Kong flagged cargo ship departed South Carolina in July carrying 6,000 pounds of human remains valued at $67,204. The container’s temperature was set to 5 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the parts from spoiling. Relatives of the dead, meanwhile, did not realize their loved ones’ remains were being dismembered and sent to Europe and elsewhere, the report notes.
Body brokers like Oregon-based MedCure rely on lax regulations to export heads, shoulders, knees and toes to Mexico, China, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, among several other countries. Plastic surgeons in Germany use heads to practice new techniques, while thousands of parts are shipped overseas annually.
“There are people who wouldn’t necessarily mind where the specimens were sent if they were fully informed,” Brandi Schmitt, who directs a body donation system at the University of California, told reporters about the trade, which is still shrouded in mystery. “But clearly there are plenty of donors that do mind and that don’t feel like they’re getting enough information.”
The FBI raided MedCure in November, which culminated in a federal investigation.