Jalisco Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval announced the dismissal of Luis Octavio Cotero, the head of the Jalisco Forensics Institute since 2015, for what he referred to as "indolence and negligence," CBS News reported Tuesday.
Reports of the mobile morgue emerged last week after several locals living on the outskirts of Guadalajara filed complaints over a mysterious truck giving off a horrid smell. Each time the truck appeared at a town, it was chased out by upset residents.
Most recently the truck was spotted illegally parked inside of a warehouse and later in a field, where it appeared to be abandoned, according to Reuters, which reported that the truck was moved to another warehouse near the Jalisco state prosecutor's office on Monday.
The mobile morgue is said to be the result of the state not having enough space to keep up with the increasing number of persons killed in surging drug cartel violence. More than 16,000 cartel-related deaths have been reported in the western Mexican state so far this year, Reuters reported. Per Mexican law, unclaimed bodies are prevented from being cremated until criminal investigations are complete.
Speaking with Reuters, Cotero stressed that his agency was not responsible for the storage of unclaimed bodies and that he had previously informed government officials in 2016 that larger morgue facilities were needed in order to keep up with demand. He also accused the Jalisco government of using him as a scapegoat.
"It's bad political conduct. I feel sorry for the institute," Cotero said. "Only now they are looking around… it's inefficacy that has put our state in such a sorry position."
Cotero later struck down suggestions that he was acting insensitively toward murder victims, revealing that his family had also been a victim of the cartel violence ever since his daughter became one of the many disappeared.
The troubled Mexican state is home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of the most violent drug gangs in Mexico. In 2017, the state saw a record 31,000 cartel-related homicides reported, according to Reuters.
Jalisco's General Secretary Roberto Lopez told local media outlets this week that the bodies will be moved to a new facility that is expected to be fully operational within the next two months. The new building is expected to be able to house 700 bodies.
An investigation into the roaming morgue is ongoing.