Karissa Rajpaul left South Africa for Southern California with a dream: to become a social media star and be successful in the adult entertainment industry, authorities said.
But those dreams never came true for this ambitious 26-year-old, who died two years ago during an illegal cosmetic surgery operation.
After settling in Sherman Oaks, Rajpaul contacted a mother-daughter team that investigators said were advertising cosmetic procedures at discounted rates on Instagram.
The women – identified by police as Libby Adame, 51, and Alicia Gomez, 23 – met Rajpaul, who was seeking an improvement in her buttocks, according to an investigation into the woman’s death.
Police said the couple were not allowed to perform surgery, but Rajpual scheduled three medical procedures with them in the fall of 2019.
During one of the procedures, Rajpaul took selfies and a video showing herself smiling as she lay on a cloth-covered table in a private home in Encino. Adame and Gomez were seen in the video, which has since been deleted from Instagram, injecting a syringe into Rajpaul’s buttocks in the background.
But in his third procedure – October 15, 2019 – something went horribly wrong. Rajpaul was injected with a type of liquid silicon comprising materials commonly found in home improvement stores, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. She suffered from acute cardiopulmonary dysfunction and died on the makeshift operating table that had been set up in the house, authorities said.
Adame and Gomez called 911 and then fled, Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Alan Hamilton said.
It took nearly two years – and more than 50 other victims reporting botched surgeries – before the LAPD identified Adame, known as La Tia, and Gomez as the women responsible for Rajpaul’s death. The couple, who live in Encino, were arrested last month and charged with murder.
Since the arrests, the LAPD has increased its staff to handle the sudden influx of appeals, mostly from women, reporting botched cosmetic procedures.
“We were actually looking for other victims and we have located a few,” Hamilton said, “but now that it’s made public, they’re coming out of the woods.”
Many patients who have spoken to authorities are “permanently disfigured and suffer horrific consequences” from home procedures, Hamilton said. They all shared similar stories alleging that Adam and Gomez performed surgeries from private homes, transferring medical equipment to and from every location.
Hamilton said the attractiveness of a cheaper procedure is what attracts many people to such illegal operations. While the average cost for a typical butt lift in a certified plastic surgeon’s office could range from $ 10,000 to $ 15,000, Adame and Gomez were charging between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000, police said.
As more women come forward, investigators say the two could face additional charges, including disfigurement, chaos and serious bodily harm.
Anyone with information about Adame and Gomez is urged to call Los Angeles Police at (818) 374-9550.