A human hand and three placentas have been sent from a university in Brazil, destined for an unorthodox fashion designer in Singapore, in a case of suspected human organ trafficking, according to Brazilian Federal Police.
The hand and placentas were plastinated, a common preservation method for museums and research, before being shipped from the Amazonas State University (UEA) in Manaus, Brazil. Police then carried out an anti-trafficking raid after receiving information about the possible trafficking of human remains, and a professor from the school’s anatomy lab has been suspended. If found guilty of international trafficking of human organs, he will face up to 8 years in prison.
“According to the investigations, the accused send plastinated human organs to Singapore. Plastination is a modern technical process for preserving biological material, which basically consists of removing bodily fluids (water and fixing solutions) and fats, through chemical methods, substituting them for plastic resins like silicon, polyester and epoxy, resulting in dry, odourless and durable tissues,” said the Brazilian Federal Police in a statement.
It is thought the remains were to be used by a famous Indonesian fashion designer for manufacturing “accessories/clothing with human material”. The designer, Arnold Putra, has come under fire in the past for "designer" accessories made of human remains after creating a bag made of "ethically-sourced" human spines and alligator tongues, with some media outlets reporting the spine to be of a child. Putra claimed he had papers stating the parts were sourced from a medical surplus in Canada.
According to comments made by a Brazilian federal police officer on a secure line to Vice, the remains had already left Brazilian borders and it is unclear whether they have been intercepted yet.