Funeral group identifies 120 rogue operators, alleges corrupting of public officials
Rasbert Turner, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors has identified 120 rogue operators it says are threatening the integrity of the business and often engaged in corrupting public officials.
They are “suitcase operators” who have been obtaining money from unsuspecting relatives of deceased people by fraudulent means, said association president Calvin Lyn.
"You find persons travelling with syringes inserting liquid in bodies claiming that they have embalmed the body," Lyn told The Gleaner.
"You will find that even after it is realised that they are not trained in Mortuary Science, the relatives have to pay. It is very sad and it must be addressed urgently," he said.
His concern coincides with reports that some funeral homes have been making available to gangsters, the embalming chemical, formaldehyde.
The gangsters are said to be using the chemical to ‘get high’ before carrying out their crimes.
According to Lyn, it is worrying that uncertified funeral homes have been able to procure embalming fluid because one must first obtain a special order from the Health Ministry.
"We are very frustrated as nothing is being done," said Lyn who is also the managing director of Lyn’s Funeral Home in Mandeville, Manchester.
He said that was among the reasons his association was formed comprising 17 registered funeral directors.
“The aim is to strengthen the business of dealing professionally with the final rites. We are challenged by persons who operate in unsanitary conditions and are virtually taking away bodies from hospitals, homes and other such places," Lyn said.
According to him, the rogue operators are believed to be offering bribes to hospital officials to call the family members of deceased patients and coerce them to allow their entities to remove the bodies.
"You will often find that after taking away the body and have it stored, sometimes in freezers, the family comes crying that it costs them all of $80,000 to remove the body (from the hospital) after been lured for a much less figure," Lyn said.
He has also accused some police personnel of corrupt links to unregulated homes.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the regulations governing funeral homes are to be strengthened.
He is also warning that operators who continue to flout the law will be dealt with.