The dead are in demand. Whether used for religion or medicine, corpses bring top dollar. People are willing to put their freedom and lives on the line to plunder the dead for profit. These bizarre cases of corpse smuggling are merely the cases of individuals who were caught. We may never know how much corpse smuggling occurs in the shadows. 10 Fetus Flesh Capsules10a-capsules_61839280_SMALLIn 2012, South Korean officials seized thousands of pills containing the powdered flesh of fetuses. The pills were labeled as stamina boosters but intended to satisfy a demand for cannibalism. They were manufactured in China, and their grisly nature has ignited international tensions. The Chinese blamed the South Koreans. The South Koreans blamed the Chinese.Aborted and stillborn children were harvested for the process. They were refrigerated before microwave drying. The corpses were then pulverized, mixed with herbs, and put into capsules. China has a tradition of eating aborted fetuses and placentas, which are considered part of the mother.This unorthodox medicine is believed to increase sperm supply and blood flow. In 2007, the Hong Kong publication Next Magazine reported that fetuses were a trending health supplement in China. They noted that demand had outgrown supply and that buyers were getting their fix directly from hospitals.
In 2011, a Cypriot monk and two accomplices were arrested at an Athens airport as they attempted to smuggle the bones of a nun out of the country. The monk claimed that the remains were venerated relics that belonged to a saint. The Cypriot Orthodox Church does not recognize the victim, Eleni Vathiadou, as a saint. Officials suspect that the monk had financial motives for smuggling her bones out of Greece.However, they admit that sects of the Cypriot Orthodox Church may have venerated Ms. Vathiadou in secret. She had been a nun in Cyprus but died in Greece four years earlier.The 56-year-old monk only got a slap on the wrist for his actions. He was suspended from his church for a mere three months and charged with theft and desecrating the dead—a misdemeanor in Greece. 8 Black Magic Babies8-gold-leaf-fetuses
In 2012, Thai police discovered six dead babies in a Bangkok hotel. The infants, aged two to six months, were roasted and wrapped in gold leaf. The macabre collection was found in the luggage of Chow Hok Kuen, a British citizen of Taiwanese descent. Once arrested, Chow revealed a shadowy black market for infant corpses.The babies were en route to Taiwan to be used in black magic rituals. It is believed that the man purchased them from a Taiwanese merchant in Thailand. Once smuggled into Taiwan, the man could sell the grisly golden haul for six times the purchase price.The tip-off to Thai police came when they intercepted a communique from a website catering to the black magic needs of wealthy clientele. Chow was one of many in this horrific enterprise.
7 Grisly Bear7a-teddy-bear_12770536_SMALLIn 2014, a customs agent in Mexico City discovered a horrific find in an unlikely source: a teddy bear. X-ray analysis revealed that a shipment of plush bears contained two human skulls. The recently exhumed remains had been purchased in Mexico City and were en route to the US. Authorities arrested medicinal herb merchant Fidencio Aparicio Ramirez. He revealed a shadowy black market for human skulls in the US. They are in high demand for practitioners of Santeria—a syncretic religion merging West African beliefs with Catholicism.The skulls were most likely heading to Southern California and Florida, the centers of Santeria in the US. Possessing human skulls is not illegal in the US if the material has been sourced properly. The grisly bear skulls were definitely not. 6 Booming Bone Business6a-indian-skulls
In 2007, officials in Jaigaon, India, discovered a shipment of human skeletons en route to the monasteries of Bhutan. The monks planned to turn the bones into blow horns and convert the skulls into chalices. The skeletons originated in the cremation grounds of Varanasi, a city on the banks of the Ganges River. Eastern India has long been home to a human bone industry and was once the world’s largest supplier of skeletons for anatomical study. The government banned this practice in 1985 due to concerns about harvesting practices. Today, the legal products come from Eastern Europe and China. However, these products are considered inferior to the Indian variety, which is known for its acid-bleached appearance and high-quality hardware.As a result, the practice continues in a black market of bones throughout India. The underground market has not improved harvesting practices. Body snatchers typically desecrate graves or loot cremation fires as soon as loved ones depart.