Teams of volunteer researchers uncovered mass graves in a South Texas cemetery that they believe contain the bodies of nearly 200 immigrants who died crossing into the U.S. illegally.
Human remains in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags and some with no container have been unearthed at Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias in the last two weeks by Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker, University of Indianapolis forensic anthropologist Krista Latham, and their students.
The bodies were allegedly buried by a local funeral home, which was paid by the county.
Skulls were found inside biohazard bags placed between coffins, and in one burial at least three bodies were found inside one bag.
"To me it's just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head, and it's just as disrespectful," Latham told the Caller Times.
"These people deserve a proper investigation and a proper burial," Democratic Sen. Juan Hinojosa told Reuters.
The dig is part of a multi-year effort to identify the immigrants who died in the area near the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The Associated Press. Researchers exhumed 110 unidentified bodies in 2013 and this summer another 52 were unearthed. Because many of the remains were stored together it is still unclear how many bodies have been found, Baker said.
From 2011 to 2013, more than 300 people have died crossing the border into Brooks County alone. Brooks County Chief Deputy Benny Martinez said a local funeral home charges $450 to handle each body.