Police officials said the gang murdered individuals in rural areas and then extracted fat and tissues from the corpses in a clandestine laboratory, which was then sold to intermediaries in the country’s capital, Lima.
According to a report in Peruvian national newspaper La Republica, police said the fat was sold on for approximately €10,000 a litre, and they believe it was then sold on to cosmetics companies in Europe for anti-ageing treatments, although this theory is still being investigated.
An organised gang, that included both Peruvian and Italian nationals, is said to have targeted mainly farmers in rural areas of the country, luring them with offers of employment, only to murder them.
Police investigate up to 60 related missing persons
At a press conference in Lima, a general of the Peruvian National Police, Eusebio Félix Murga, said his officers had arrested four people on suspicion of murdering dozens of victims, while further investigations were looking into gang members still at large, including two Italian nationals.
During the conference police showed what they said were two bottles of human fat that had been confiscated at the laboratory, as well as photographic evidence depicting the corpse of one of the murder victims.
Three of the detained gang members have already confessed to killing five people, but the police say they are following up investigations that take into account more than 60 people who have gone missing recently.
Doubt over the revelations
The gruesome revelations and the subsequent finger that had been pointed at cosmetics industry has left many professionals in the industry to express both dismay and doubt at the revelations.
Indeed, it is known to be scientifically disputable that incorporating human fat and tissue into any kind of cosmetic anti-ageing treatment would prove an effective means of eradicating wrinkles or other signs of ageing.
Likewise, the growing problem of obesity in Europe means that treatments such as liposuction have led to an abundant supply of surplus human fat and tissue, which could easily be used for such applications if necessary.