Authorities in the Mexican state of Jalisco have come under fire after it was revealed that the remains of 157 unidentified people had been abandoned in a refrigerated truck.
The truck, left in an open field close to the city of Tlajomulco de Zuniga, was discovered after local people complained about the smell — the vehicle's cooling system having broken down.
The remains are believed to be victims of organised crime and cartel violence. However, the state's Institute of Forensic Sciences could not admit them as their facilities already were at full capacity.
The remains were then supposed to be transferred to a site planned for mass graves but the project was suspended after locals protested that they were being built too close to houses.
Luis Octavio Cotero, the head of Jalisco's Institute of Forensic Sciences — the entity responsible for handling the remains — has since been dismissed.
The state's governor, Aristoteles Sandoval, said that there had been "serious omissions that must be sanctioned."
"It is evident that those who were in charge of the transfer procedure altered the protocol without notifying their hierarchical superiors," he added.
The truck's discovery has sparked outrage in Mexico, where crime fuelled by a violent drugs' war has led to thousands of disappearances. The country recorded some 30,000 murders last year, its highest number since 1997.
"Por amor a ellos," a group composed of relatives of missing people, said in a statement that it is outraged "at the degrading treatment that the authorities give to the bodies of the people who, victims of violence, have died in Jalisco and for the revictimization subjected on those who seek their loved ones."
"We remind the authorities that there is a legal framework that requires them to always act under the principals of dignity, public interest, accountability and transparency," the statement added.
They called on authorities to identify the bodies and return them to their families.
On social media, many also expressed their stupefaction at such a gruesome discovery.
"The authorities' insensibility and lack of responsibility has no limit: Unidentified people were left in a ruck to decompose," a Twitter user wrote.
Another posted: "Mexico, which celebrates another year of independence, is a country were the dead travel from town to town, because they do not fit anywhere. The horror is, once again, at the back of a truck."
The truck has since been moved but authorities did not communicate where to.