Lima, Nov 20 (DPA) A Peruvian criminal gang is suspected of killing dozens of peasants in order to sell their tissue for use in beauty products, local media reported overnight.
Four suspected members of a gang known as Los Pishtacos – a word referring to a devil who kills to take the fat of his victims – have been detained, while seven remain at large.
Police earlier seized a package containing human fat at the premises of a Lima transport company operating between several provinces.
The gang, based in the mountainous central Huanuco region, was believed to have been active for several years.
Authorities said it could be responsible for the disappearance of a large number of people, including children, from villages in Huanuco and Pasco regions.
The exact number of victims was not known, though some reports spoke of 60 people. The victims must have been “numerous” based on the amount of fat sold, police investigator Eusebio Felix Murga was quoted as saying.
The grease of the victims was reportedly sold for $15,000 per kg to European companies making beauty products. It was also thought possible that the gang trafficked in human organs.
“This is a delicate subject,” Interior Minister Octavio Salazar said.
“How can people exist who cut others up with the only goal of earning money by (selling) human fat? How far have we come?” Salazar asked, in comments made to the daily Correo.
It would be a novelty to use human fat for commercial purposes, according to medical experts quoted by the daily El Comercio.
Human fat was similar to fat obtained from pigs, and could be used for making soap, the sources explained.