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July 18, 2008

Skull Trafficking Ring Busted in Gabon

Police in Libreville, Gabon performed a sting operation that netted a ring of grave robbers. They are suspected of selling human skulls to people who make traditional medicines and amulets. Eight Gabonese suspects were caught for suspicious of selling nine human skulls and femur bones. Col. Alphonse Ngo who is the head of judicial police in Gabon did not go into how the men were identified, However, he did confirm that eight men were arrested in charged with such crimes.

Police initiated the sting operation after people reported that graves of their relatives had been disturbed or dug up. Jean Martin Moussavou, who is considered the ring leader of the group says hat the group has been steal skulls and selling them since 2004. There are people in Gabon that make traditional medicines and amulets that involve human remains.

The grave robbing ring would break into graveyards at night and steal skulls. The skulls were then sold to people who grind them up and use the remains in a potion. This is supposed to give the person that drinks the potion strength. A common initiation ritual known as Bwiti, in which young women and men drink a potion in order to see visions involves the remnants of skulls.

Apparently orders were placed with Jean Martin Moussavou for skulls. After the orders were placed, Moussavou and his band of grave robbers would go to cemeteries at night and take skulls. The fact that skulls were used in making initiations potions was not known by many. One housewife that was initiated thought Bwiti was shocked to find out that there were human remains in the potion.

The skulls were sold for 250,000 Central African francs which comes out to about $620 American dollars. That does not seem like a lot for the remains of someone that was loved and cherished by someone else. Grave robbing is dire, no matter what the circumstances are, but for this little amount of money it seems even more outrageous.

The judicial police’s crime unit stated that this is not the first time that skulls have been seized. Grave robbers have been popping up in Gabon on a small scale but this particular grave robbing group was the largest one that police have recovered. The eight traffickers have been charged with stealing human remains and desecrating graves and selling human remains. The penalty for a crime like this is a jail sentence of two to five years.

Are people in the world really still believing that consuming human remains will make them more powerful? What type of power would one achieve by drinking the remains of a person? I realize that the culture is different but even so, this is a rather disturbing case. Recently I heard a story about a man in Romania that was thought to be cursing people. Villagers murdered him, extracted his heart and made a potion out of it. Everyone that thought they were cursed drank the potion. These old world views that involved human remains must be eradicated from the world.

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1 Comment(s)

  1. st pete cts decon | Jul 21, 2008 | Reply

    What a strange world we live in. I read an article a little while back about a Hatian woman who tried to bring a human head into the US! People need to wake up to how violent some people and religions really are…

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