A study done by the newspaper found the body tampering continues because of scant federal or state regulation over the use of human tissue for research and because legal ambiguities allow body part providers to profit from the dead.
"If the present situation continues unregulated, this is going to be catastrophic," said Todd Olson, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "There's no oversight. The more this goes unregulated, the more stories will come out, and the public will lose confidence."
Over the past 19 years, more than 16,800 families have been represented in lawsuits claiming loved ones' body parts were stolen for profit, the report said.
Annie Cheney, author of "Body Brokers: Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains," found unscrupulous cadaver harvesters can fetch $600 for a brain, as much as $850 for an elbow and up to $850 for a hand.