An increase in the number of homicides reported this year in Medellin, Colombia, is seriously challenging the operational capacity of the city’s forensic units.
In the first three months of 2010, some figures showed a 54.8% increase in the number of homicides within the city of Medellin itself, with 503 reported cases. According to official figures, the number has since risen to 911, as of June 1, with eleven of the city’s seventeen district showing a significant increase in murder rates.
The number of unidentified corpses passing through the city’s morgues is placing considerable strain on the service.
Jose Ivan Gomez Aristizabel, director of Colombia’s Institute for Forensic Sciences, said that the problem has been further compounded by a shortage in personnel and resources in the institute’s ballistic laboratories. Of the 884 homicides reported in the first five months of the year, 88% were due to firearms. The lack of adequately trained staff able to analyse and identify projectiles used in these homicides has meant that processing times are considerably longer.
The news that the city’s morgues have reached full capacity is especially alarming, after a brand new service tower was unveiled in February. The tower is the result of a $2.816 million investment of public funds, aimed at improving local facilities to cope with homicide victims.