Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Texas: Funeral Homes Paid to Bury Migrants, Throw Remains in Mass Graves

In plastic kitchen trash bags, body bags, Biohazard bags,  filled with the  remains of migrants. Found in mass graves,  and thrown into the earth like trash.  Economic migrants meet in death the same disrespect, disregard, and disdain as they encounter from their first step out of Central America onward.  This  is expected of narcos, not  in a civilized society...Chivís

Update: A state senator from South Texas called on Saturday for an investigation into recently discovered mass graves containing the bodies of apparent illegal immigrants believed to have been buried by a funeral home paid by the local county government.

The grisly discovery was made by anthropologists at a cemetery in FalfurriasTexas, 80 miles (130 km) from the state's southern border with Mexico.

"These people deserve a proper investigation and a proper burial," said Senator Juan Hinojosa,

Hinojosa said he and the local district attorney would meet next week to request an inquiry by the Texas Rangers, the Texas Department of Public Safety's investigative arm. [original post below]

Unidentified migrants who died entering the United States were buried in mass graves in a South Texas cemetery, with remains found in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags, or no containers at all, researchers discovered.

In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another instance, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other, Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said. Skulls were found in biohazard bags — like the red plastic bags in receptacles at doctors’ offices — placed between coffins.

“To me it’s just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head, and it’s just as disrespectful,” said Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Indianapolis.

Bodies that were not already skeletonized before burial were found in varying states of decomposition, Baker said.

The bodies are believed to have been buried by a local funeral home since 2005 in the Sacred Heart Burial Park in Brooks County.
The discovery came in the last two weeks as the pair of anthropologists and their students continued an all-volunteer, multiyear effort to identify migrants who have died of exposure while evading Border Patrol checkpoints in remote South Texas, where temperatures reach more than 100 degrees in the summer and there is little water and shade. Hundreds of people have died in just the last few years in Brooks County alone, where the discovery of the mass graves was made in the county-owned portion of the cemetery in Falfurrias.

The researchers and their students exhumed remains of 110 unidentified people from the cemetery in 2013. This summer they performed 52 exhumations, but more than 52 people were buried in those spaces. Because remains were commingled, and not all of the body bags were opened on-site, further study will be needed to determine the number of people recovered, Baker said.

The researchers expect to return next year to exhume more remains.

The mass graves are yet another sign of U.S. immigration systems and policies overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and of their difficulty coping with the humanitarian aspects of illegal migration. Since October, the nation has struggled to house and process record numbers of minors fleeing civil and political unrest in Central America, many traveling alone. Migrants from Central America travel north along freight train lines in Mexico, leading to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and on to Brooks County.

There, they set out on foot across rugged, remote, privately owned ranchlands, often led by guides associated with criminal gangs or left to find their way to the next highway north of the checkpoint, a 30-mile trek, or even longer for the lost.


County officials said they paid the local funeral home, Funeraria del Angel Howard-Williams to handle the bodies after sheriff’s officials recovered them from the brush country. County Judge Raul Ramirez said that was the practice for at least 16 years.

A smaller number of migrants die in neighboring Jim Hogg County. It has paid Howard-Williams to handle bodies for as long as Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Lorenzo Benavides can remember — at least 22 years, he said. The funeral home buried the Jim Hogg County remains in the Brooks County cemetery, he said.

The funeral home currently charges $450 to handle each body, Brooks County Chief Deputy Benny Martinez said.

Researchers found remains under small, temporary grave markers bearing the Howard-Williams name, Baker said.

A kitchen garbage bag containing bones was tucked inside a gift bag emblazoned with a logo featuring the word “Dignity,” Baker said, indicating one of the funeral service brands owned by Howard-Williams’ parent company, Houston-based Service Corporation International. The company acquired Howard-Williams in 1999, spokeswoman Jessica McDunn said.

A funeral home official declined to comment, instead referring questions to McDunn.

“No matter if this is one of our client families we serve on a traditional basis or a migrant family’s loved one we’re serving and we don’t have any identification of the loved one, I do want to let you know it is our policy to treat the decedent with care, to treat them just like we would treat anyone else,” McDunn said.

Baker said the funeral home indicated it had no records when the researchers approached Howard-Williams before exhuming bodies.

McDunn said in an email that the funeral home has “certain records related to these burials, but this does not amount to confirmation that Howard-Williams was involved in depositing the remains in the manner the researchers described.”

The funeral home would not give the Caller-Times access to the records.
“Because of the sensitive nature of our business, it is not our general practice to share our records publicly, no matter the decedent or the family we serve,” McDunn said.


Burials in Texas are governed by an array of laws and agencies, depending on the type of burial and the type of cemetery, leading to gray areas of responsibility.

For example, the Texas Health and Safety Code requires that records of dates, locations and names be kept for any burial, but doesn’t directly say who is responsible, said Kyle Smith, staff attorney at the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

Traditionally, the cemetery owner takes on responsibility of recording and mapping graves, he said. And if a family complains a loved one was buried in the wrong plot — or together with another body — a funeral home will usually try to make the situation right, Smith said.

For the mass graves of Brooks County, there are no loved ones here to complain.

Baker said she found similar problems with record-keeping when her group exhumed bodies at a cemetery in Del Rio.

“That could probably be the case in a bunch of rural cemeteries throughout the state,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to find that is status quo throughout the state.”

Burying people in bags in mass graves is another matter, said Jon Stephenson, secretary of the Texas Cemeteries Association.

“The whole thing sounds really bizarre,” he said. “I can’t imagine why a professional funeral home or cemetery or anybody would take that attitude. It doesn’t make sense.”

Ramirez, the Brooks County judge, was not present during the exhumations and had not been briefed on the findings before a reporter called.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” he said. “I am shocked also. That would be unacceptable. I do want an answer. We deserve an answer.”

Bishop Emeritus René Gracida of the Diocese of Corpus Christi said he was shocked when told of the findings, calling the burial practices “wrong ... truly anti-civilized ... barbaric,” and lamenting that migrants are treated without dignity because of their social status.

Eddie Canales, an immigrant rights advocate who has worked to establish water stations for migrants traversing Brooks County, said the unknown dead deserve more sanctity in burial.

“I think it’s very hard for people to connect in the fact that these were human beings,” he said. “It just goes to the language, to the words, and words mean a lot: ‘All these were illegals.’

“Even in death, they wound up not getting the proper respect.”

Source CorpusChristiCaller.Com


  1. This mass burials are totally wrong. The funeral home and cemetery should be held accountable and charged with criminal wrong doing. I wonder how many of the bodies disposed of in this manner were just indigent with no one to claim them and NOT illegal immigrants?

  2. And they called it "the land of the free and home if the brave". Well it never was.

    1. Agreed...the us has always been an illusion

    2. In every society there is imperfections however this does not mean all is bad the US has a lot good things to offer but in this matter sure makes the whole system look bad and this business deserves nothing but been put out of business and be sued my opinion only.

    3. They should charge this people just to get easy money they do horrible things how said is this be treated just becouse they are are not from this country sick people

  3. No todos que se la rifan en la raya o al crusar la frontera ganan... Cuando te la rifas... puedes Ganar o puedes Perdir... piensalo bien.

  4. Who would think this is an ok way to treat the dead... Just sad. My respects to the fallen

  5. You people get bandits and narcos wrong. To go out and say all the bandits are narcos is really lazy.

  6. The land of the cowards and thieves they receive the money for one service, a modest service but a service at the end but they act like Americans cowards and abusive, get the money, throw everything on the dumpster I'm sure they said.

  7. This is a criminal action. I recall not too long ago in another southern state where a funeral home were simply stashing bodies wherever but not burying them. Those people faced criminal charges, I think one was convicted.

    In this story there were more than one funeral homes, and I believe the tip of the iceberg.

    I have an update I will add to the post.

  8. Falfurrius Texas, is where spm was raised at south park Mexican free los

  9. Something like this happened recently in Dallas, I think.

  10. The funeral home is paid $450 to handle the bodies. The burial plots, caskets and employees and the cost to dig a hole is costly. Would it not be better to just do a cremation? The population of Falfurrias, Texas is less than 5,000 people. It was 6,000 in 1990. The income averages about minimum wage per year. The cost of casket and burial on average across the country is about $6,000. $3,000 more for a service. The costs for illegals is costing taxpayers a lot of money. This is just another form. Many cities along the border are going broke, along with businesses that are forced to perform services for free, like hospitals. The criminal fact is that they were paid only $450 and were expected to do miracles. But where is all the money to come from? This is a sad situation all around. Might be a good idea to see how many people that are complaining, might start a web site to collect money for all these burials, and for better ones. But there are better causes that might help the poor that are alive. Who is going to start one, and who wants to pitch in? I am going to be cremated, as I do not want to take up more space, and maybe my ashes can help a plant grow. A funeral pyre would be OK. I do not care after I am gone. Nave their country of origin pitch in. They are encouraging them to make this trek in many instances. I am betting they will say they cannot afford it. What a "catch 22".

  11. I cud understand if they were absolutely unidentifiable but this is not even right!!! Not all of us in the u.s think this is ok! Hope it dont take the families long to figure out t.v lawyers in america!! It wont bring them back but they would get paid BIG for this travesty!!

  12. I am in agreement with cremation. But the humane thing to do is create a DNA bank. The total cost for both is around 700-800.

    They were not all skeletal, many were still decomposing and in the ground not so long. If they won't do DNA, then photos of those still identifiable should be taken and logged. and accessible to the public so families could search for their love ones.

  13. I strongly disagree with spending money on dead people this is a huge problem, money for the unacompanied juveniles, money for the family units coming across the border ,... Less money for the border patrol, which are better paid than sheriffs and local police department..... We need to get to the bottom of this mess and start deporting..... On talk show radio it is said that these people from central america are coming to the US, because of the mexican cartels influence on the delinquents, maras trece and diezyocho,.. MARA SALVARUCHA, if it is true than there is no worst place for drug caryels influence than MEXICO, and those kids, and family units are not from MEXICO.... lets stop blaming the cartels for central americas problems... And if it is true than why not let the MEXICAN, children in on the same loop hole we are letting all central americans in..... I Hope i am not confusing you with this but does it make sense.... Why only central americans and not everyone... Im al for deportations.... That will stop them from coming here.... There is no war in central america no hurricane relief either.... The bigest cartels are in mexico why the mass migration.... WHY.... ONCE MORE mexicans in mexico are much more affected by the cartels than central americans in central america by the mexican cartels.... Upsetting i think i said enough... Thank you and my respect for the deceased trying to better their lives..... Im out.....

  14. Chivas
    Has anyone submitted DNA Samples with names. This would be worse than a jigsaw puzzle with no pictures on it. You would have to build a DNA data base with all the people that have lost family from central and South America. What would the cost be to do all the DNA needed per person. I was reading that court cases and police have not enough help and there is shortages of places that can do DNA for crime investigations in the USA. SO buy a DNA bank, you mean just a piece of flesh or hair in deep freeze. I noticed that people from Central and South America were paying people from other countries to do the DNA on bodies found in Mexico. To figure out which parts of a body belonged with another would be awfully hard. You would have had to put pieces of different peoples bodies in a casket together in many cases. Could you test each bone, or piece of flesh, or body part to see who it belonged to? The funeral home could not have done that. With a back logged system and the costs involved it might be asking a lot. Would just like your opinion Chivis. I have a lot of respect for you. You are an angel to me. But I think one needs to look at it realistically. I agree on the photo part for sure, of the ones that are more complete. It is very unlikely these poor people from central and South America will follow up I am guessing.

  15. Per person for ID is 200 dollars and getting cheaper. I am not saying to attempt a match, what I am saying have the DNA available for families interested in testing.

    A DNA data bank is simply a computer data Bank or master file, it is what police agencies use.

    I think instead of closing the door to possibilities we should, be an example of compassion and this really is not the big cost ticket one would think.

    I head Biden is going to Guate this week to speak on the migrant children issue.

  16. Tyrone-
    that was the case I was talking about! Tri State. They were charged with over 700 criminal counts. They gave the families cement dust in place of cremated remains.


  17. for 1:24 pm You must be exhausted all the time, carrying that heavy load of racism and hate on your shoulders. Probably pretty stressful.

    Most the bodies were not skeleton. as for matching bones, That is being done already.

  18. CHIVAAA! off topic again but it may interest you and some readers:
    thepenrev's channel on youtube: how borderland beat has impacted myself and others.
    i'm not promoting that site, but since that guy promotes BB, i tought it would be nice to return the favour, and HE puts his mug out there with his ass on the line, i'd like to know what you think of that guy, if you can. xoxoxo

  19. private contractors again taking the money from the government, with ample promises of a better deal coupled with POOR RESULTS, and in this case, even buying out the competition, ashes don't take up too much space, or fuel, bones don't take too much room either, or dna samples, it is not like somebody is at the door waiting for immediate results, but why waste the money, all these people want is to enhance the "revenue"' and they will, by any means necessary...ssseeshh!

  20. Someone wondered why Central Americans and not Mexicans crossing the border and whats their problem,no war or hurricanes.Well Central America has a murder rate triple of what Mexicos is.Remember the drugs are moved in a smaller and more concentrated area by Mexican cartel there.Crossing into Mexico they risk rape,prostitution,robbery,kidnapping,extortion,etc.etc. so they must be that desperate all because of being born in the wrong geographical location.We are so lucky being born in our northern countries or we would be doing the same.Just think about it and walk a mile in their shoes if you can.All the power to them,they have incredible strength.I really feel for them.

  21. Why not if you are attempting to get into the u.s, put your name and where you are from writen on the inside of the clothing or written on something and cut a slit into the hem on the waist, something.. when troops go into battle, they usually have an emblem of their country, and thier name on their uniform, plus usually on a piece of duct tape they will put their blood type somewhere someone can see it, you know being considerate to someone else handling your rotting corpse goes a long way....anyway so just getting an id with your name and address is two undred dollars? Wow thats a lot... here in the states just an I.d card cost about 15 to 25 dollars. Easily affordable for just about anyone. Hell even kindergartners should put their name and phone number written inside their clothing... if someone doesnt have any I.d how can you prove you are you...unless you want to be someone else...

  22. Hey also, to all you people who think we are making lampshades, and using the bones of mexicans to frame our homes, how many incomplete skeletons are there?? Does it say if they were found that way?? You do realize there are wild animals, coyotes, vultures, wild boar, hell even stray dogs running around in those parts, you do realize most animals and insects heat, wind, dust storms you know, nature happens. You people are forgetting this is a very hostile planet
    And your government would do even less than this funeral home, oh and to the one who says bones dont take up a lot of space, lol yeah o.k pal.. when was the last time you stored bones. I just dont understand how you people can say that people who operate in an industry that makes billions of dollars a year turned out to be greedy. I just dont understand how could there be greedy and unfair..

  23. The tri state case was crazy...

  24. Im curious if any of these funeral homes were owned by hispanics, now that would be cute if there were.. oh and a data bank is useless without paying someone that knows what they are doing..i doubt te simpletons way down in south texas just hanging around has a degree in genetic research... look those south texas towns arent known for their culture...

  25. US businessmen and US intelligence services are to be blamed for all the misery in the latin americas, that is the plain motherfucking truth, the reason all the drug trafficking that makes so much money for all those related to it makes no difference on latin american poverty is because the producers DO NOT GET PAID, and the drug traffickers keep being exploited by the real owners of the drug trade, according to the best practices of european schools of economics that consist of "gimme all the money" propositions and reinvesting it on acquiring mining rights for minerals, water property and farming all the arable land by export, and state owned enterprises, now a sick joke is being played on te latin americans, well organized to further blame obama for the problems it causes, THINK, who benefits from all this, sick rick perry has found a wat to steal 1.5 million usd a week to babysit all these minors from the "rich texas treasury" for his next presidential campaign, and fuck the sick and the dead, now that abortions can only be performed at his sister's associated clinics all over "righteous state" texas, and a warning, you don't know what is buried under your house in texas, it is not pirate Black Beard's treasury...

  26. This is the tip of the iceberg. Dead are big business, body parts for sale.


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