‘Human chop shop’ caught selling loved ones’ body parts

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An Arizona court ordered a biomedical research company to pay $58 million to 10 families of deceased persons who willed their bodies to science, only to have their organs and tissues sold for profit without consent.

The Maricopa County Superior Court jury’s ruling against the Biological Resource Center of Phoenix stems from a January 2014 raid of the company, launched after airline personnel found severed human heads in packages being flown the Middle East on a commercial airliner.

The Arizona Republic reports the raid uncovered a house of horrors, including “a head sewn onto a mismatched body, a bucket of limbs and a cooler filled with penises.”

The FBI’s investigation found that while BRC convinced people to donate their bodies for research after death with promises they would be used to find cures for diseases, bodies were instead chopped up and sold to researchers and companies for profit.

In one case, Jim Stauffer’s and his mother agreed to donate her body to BRC after being told she would be used to research a cure for Alzheimer’s, with assurances her complete body would be cremated and returned to her family.

Stauffer’s son would later learn the box he received contained only the ashes of one of her hands. Her body had instead been sold the U.S. military to research the effects of IED bomb blasts. She was strapped into a chair and literally blown up.

The paperwork he filled out explicitly asked if her body could be used in tests involving explosives. He checked “no.”

The $58 million civil penalty against BRC and its owner, Stephen Gore, comes after Gore pleaded guilty in superior court to illegally running an enterprise.