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Pishtacos is a term Peruvian police has used to refer to alleged Peruvian gangsters who were suspected of murdering up to 60 people for their fat, and sold it to intermediaries in Lima, who are thought to have then sold the fat to laboratories in Europe for suspected use in cosmetics.[1] Later, General Felix Murga, chief of police forces in Peru, had to take leave from his job when Peruvian ministries reported that the whole story was a hoax.[2] The hoax was apparently passed on to prevent further investigations on extrajudicial killings by police forces.[3]

Details of the hoax[edit]

According to the police, the first suspected gang member, Serapio Marcos, was arrested on November 3, 2009. Three others, Elmer Segundo Castillejos Aguero, Enedina Estela Claudio and ring leader Hilario Cudena Simon, were arrested on November 20. The gang was given the name for the mythological figure, the Pishtaco.[4][5]

The police claimed that the suspects told them that they sold the fat at a price of $15,000 per liter, but medical experts cast doubt on that, saying that so much body fat is extracted in routine medical procedures such as liposuction, that there should not be such a high demand for it.[6]

The story was that the gang members severed victims' heads, arms and legs, removed organs and suspend torsos from hooks above candles, which warmed the flesh as the fat dripped into tubs below.[5]

Peruvian police also claimed that they were searching for six additional members of the gang.[7]


  1. ^ Whalen, Andrew (November 19, 2009). "Gang Killed People For Their Fat: Peruvian Police". Huffington Post. 
  2. ^ . Time Magazine http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1943539,00.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ ""Körperfett-Morde" stürzen Polizeichef" (in German). 2 December 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  4. ^ Brice, Arthur (November 21, 2009). "Arrests made in ring that sold human fat, Peru says". CNN. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Carroll, Rory (November 20, 2009). "Gang 'killed victims to extract their fat'". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ "A Peruvian Black Market in Human Fat? Medical Experts Dispute Lima Police Claims That Gang Murdered Victims, Drained Fat From Bodies to Sell to Cosmetic Makers". Associated Press. November 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ Whalen, Andrew (November 20, 2009). Peru police: Gang killed people for fat. Associated Press. Retrieved November 21, 2009.