FBI agents donned hazmat suits as they carted cardboard boxes reported to be full of human remains from an Arizona body donation center Tuesday.
KPHO-TV reported that the Phoenix, Ariz., building that houses the Biological Resource Center, a human body donation program meant to further scientific research, is under investigation.
FBI agents and other officials were on the scene at the Arizona business Tuesday. Sources told news outlets the investigation surrounds the potential trafficking of human body parts. (Image source: KTVT-TV)
The news station captured footage of the boxes being loaded into vans destined for Dignity Mortuary:
WXYZ-TV reported the operation might extend beyond Arizona. Sources told WXYZ donated remains might not have been used for science but could have been sold on the black market.
The Biological Resource Center, according to WXYZ, might have ties with the Detroit-based International Biological. The latter business was raided in December with police saying they found remains from about 1,000 different people.
The owner of International Biological, Arthur Rathburn, has not been charged with any crime. Based on reports from Arizona, the owners of Biological Resource Center have not been served any charges either.
"I can't tell you much," Stephanie Grisham, spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General's Office, told KTVK-TV of the investigation. "All I can say is that it's a joint investigation between the Arizona attorney general's Office and the FBI."
Grisham added that she might be able to add more details about the investigation in a couple of weeks.
Watch KTVT-TV's report:
Stephanie McDowell, who owns a shop next door to the body parts donation center, told KTVK it was the hazmat suits that concerned her.
"You don't know what's going on, so you worry about the employees and everybody else around here and customers," she said.
Grisham assured the public that the suits were only a precaution.
The Biological Resource Center's website says that the human remains are used by researchers to "study specific disease processes, develop and test treatments, develop new and exciting surgical techniques, assist in the creation of progressive medical devices and create new therapies to alleviate the suffering of the medically afflicted."
In addition to presenting search warrants to the center, police had a warrant to search company president Stephen Gore's home as well.
"Totally, totally shocking," Gore's neighbor, who asked to go unidentified, told KTVK. "They are the nicest people, really, to have as your neighbors. I'm floored."
The FBI is set to continue its investigation of the Biological Resource Center Wednesday.