In Mexico, No Room at the Morgue

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2009 4:55 PM CDT
Numbered markers on the pavement determine the location of bullet casings found at the scene of a shootout where gunmen killed four police officers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Feb. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
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(Newser) – As Mexico's drug war erupted in Ciudad Juarez, the bloody results inevitably ended up in one place—the city's overwhelmed morgue. Some 2,300 victims of violence rolled through its doors last year, reports the AP, a flood of death that has resulted in stacked cadavers and plans to double the building's size. "There are times when there are so many people, so many cadavers, that we can't keep up," says the morgue director in neighboring Tijuana.

Which leaves overworked staff to sort through the grisly clues. As one doctor autopsied her third beaten and decapitated body in a week, she had to decide between cerebral hemorrhage, asphyxiation, heart attack, and decapitation as cause of death. "Every organ speaks," says one mortician.