FBI raids 'body donation' business

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by 3TV

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 7:05 PM

Map: Biological Resource Center

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PHOENIX -- Federal and state police raided a Valley business Monday, with agents wearing masks and hauling away boxes.

Authorities, along with hazmat crews, descended on the business called Biological Resource Center near 24th Street and University Drive, serving search warrants and wrapping the area in yellow crime tape.

The business is a human tissue bank where people can donate their bodies and body parts.

Investigators aren't saying much about the raid.

"I can't tell you much," said Stephanie Grisham with the Arizona Attorney General's Office. "All I can say is that it's a joint investigation between the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the FBI." 

But sources tell 3TV's Mike Watkiss that this investigation may center around the trafficking and sale of human body parts.

Grisham says the FBI is involved because the investigation spans more than one state.

On its website, Biological Resource Center describes itself as a "whole body donation program and qualified tissue bank." An online video from the center calls it a facility that "connects those who wish to donate their body to science with medical and research facilities."

The website lists the business is a "for-profit entity" with a rating of "A+" from the BBB. The company's website also lists a provisional license for tissue bank operation from the New York State Department of Health.

"I think the hazmat is what alarms me the most," said Stephanie McDowell, who, along with her husband Kurt, owns the ACC Machinery Shop next door. "You don't know what's going on, so you worry about the employees and everybody else around here and customers."

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said the site is secure, bio-hazard precautions are being taken, and the general public is not in danger.

"It is surprising and it's alarming," McDowell said. "But we'll find out the details and it might be nothing, hopefully."

In addition to the search warrant served at the business Tuesday, a warrant was also served at the home of the company's President, Stephen Gore.

"Totally, totally shocking," said a neighbor who declined to be identified. "They are the nicest people, really, to have as your neighbors. I'm floored."

A spokeswoman from the Attorney General's Office says no arrests have been made at this point.

Authorities said they will be back at the site Wednesday to gather more evidence and that the investigation is expected to continue over the next few weeks.

The investigation began in the Detroit area and has now expanded to Phoenix. The investigation has reportedly been in the works for about nine months.

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If you or anyone you know had family members that donated bodies to the Biological Resource Center located at 2602 S 24th St., Phoenix, Ariz., and have concerns based on the news reports and joint investigation being conducted by the Attorney General's Office and FBI, please call 602-542-8888 to provide those concerns and get further information. People are asked to leave a message and they will get a return phone call.
 

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