Police general Eusebio Felix Murga, who had run the investigation and also been present at an official news conference that relayed the news to a shocked press, has been transferred to another post pending a more thorough investigation of the case.
Initial police investigations suggested that dozens of victims in rural areas of the country had been murdered by the gang to harvest the bodies for their fat from a makeshift ‘laboratory’.
At the time, police said that three of the detained gang members had already confessed to killing five people, and that investigations were taking into account more than 60 people who had gone missing recently.
Closer scrutiny led to speculation
But scrutiny of the allegations led to speculation over the validity of the story, especially the suggestion that the murders were instigated by an organized European gang, who were selling the body fat on to European cosmetics companies.
At the time the police said they were following a line of investigation that the fat was being transported by the gang to Italy, with the intention of then selling it on to cosmetics companies for use in anti-ageing creams.
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.
A number of follow-up press reports then centred on certain inaccuracies in the story, namely that human body fat was being sold for use in cosmetic products.
Doubt over the revelations
Indeed, the continued press investigations into the gruesome revelations also led many cosmetics professionals to express both dismay and doubt concerning the story.
Their doubts centred on the fact that it is 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.
Another factor that helped to debunk the allegations is the fact that the growing problem of obesity in Europe means treatments such as liposuction have led to an abundant supply of surplus human fat and tissue.