Last Friday morning, the body of El Paso resident Ernest V. Arroyo was discovered in a shallow pool in the Rio Grande. As the El Paso Fire Department officials were suiting up for the retrieval, Juarez firefighters grabbed the body and pulled it past the understood boundary onto Mexican soil. When the body was discovered, Consulate officials called to relay the information, but shortly afterward, funeral homes began calling.
Anthony Arroyo, The Victim's Brother:
"Right away (the funeral home) demanded a $400 down payment," Arroyo said. "Before all was said and done, the funeral director wanted another $2,100. They went as far as coming to the United States picking up the check and cashing it before they would let us see the body."Mexican authorities noted that they do not charge fees to claim a body, but that the funeral homes may charge transportation fees for those services. After the frustration with dealing with the Mexican officials, the brother contacted several of his elected officials including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and his state senator in Houston, Mario Gallegos about the issue, and only heard back from Gallegos.
The Victim's body was returned to the family Monday, but had been autopsied without authorization from the family. They were reaching out to their officials for assistance, as the family was not familiar with international procedures concerning retreival of bodies, yet was shrugged off by many of his officials including Cornyn.
"It is upsetting the way that my family has been treated," Arroyo said. "I understand that there are lots of things going on and we are just a small problem in a big world but it is upsetting to know that if this had been handled properly, we would have never had to go through any of this."