The body of a Korean man who died in Mexico of "natural causes" has been flown home with missing organs, prompting his widow to speak out.
The 35-year-old (known only as Mr Kim) leaves behind two children and a wife, who claims there was nothing natural about her husband's cause of death, news.com.au reports.
After Mr Kim's body was flown back to his family in South Korea "without brain, stomach and heart", his wife claims the father-of-two was involved in a fight before he died.
THE REAL STORY
She claims he was involved in an altercation at a karaoke bar in Monterrey on the day he died. According to Mrs Kim, her unconscious husband was rushed to hospital the night of January 3, where he was later pronounced dead. All of this was allegedly caught on CCTV.
Her fears of a cover-up were amplified when she demanded a second autopsy be performed on January 21 by the Korean National Forensic Service.
A forensic scientist told her there were signs of external injury and bruising on her husband's body. He was also missing his brain and stomach. The NFS could not determine the cause of his death due to the missing organs.
"More than a week later, I received the autopsy result that says 'no external injuries.' I was dumbfounded," Mrs. Kim wrote on the Cheong Wa Dae website, where she has launched an online petition.
She claims Mexican police were not investigating her husband's death because on paper, dying of natural causes was not suspicious.
FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Mrs Kim is now demanding Mexican authorities return her husband's organs. "My husband was a citizen of Korea. His three-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter have lost their father," she wrote. "Please help me and help my husband."
Since January 22, the petition has garnered more than 17,500 signatures.
KBS World Radio has confirmed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in South Korea has also asked Mexican authorities to return the missing organs, which are believed to be at the Servicio Medico Forense (Forensic Medical Service).
A NATIONAL CRIME
While gangs have long had a hand in everything from politics to gang violence, Mexican cartels are now being accused of organ trafficking as well.
Gangs, especially the Caballeros Templarios, are known to engage in illegal activity other than drug trafficking including kidnapping and organ pilfering.
"I have no doubt organs are being removed from bodies," says David Shirk, a professor of political science and director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, who has investigated trafficking.
And he suggests it's happening on and off the streets. "For the most part, organ trafficking occurs in hospitals, where there are corrupt medical practitioners."
With more than 21,000 people waiting for organ transplants in Mexico, the market for organ trafficking is a lucrative one.
Despite the risks, Mexico's tourism is booming and remains the number one destination for American tourists, last year receiving record numbers of visitors. While it remains a tourist hotspot, government officials still advise travellers to "exercise a high degree of caution" when visiting.
Mrs Kim's plight bears striking similarities to that of a British family who recently made headlines. After British barmaid and waitress Amanda Gill, 41, died in hospital in Mexico, her body was returned to her family without her eyes, heart or brain. She was also reportedly missing all of her vital parts except for her lower bowel.
Mexican authorities officially ruled her cause of death as "visceral congestion."
"They stole everything inside her," her devastated mother, Elaine Hines, told The Sunday People. "If this has happened to Amanda how many other people has it happened to and will again?"