McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A woman traveled Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border injecting people with what appears to be some kind of liquid rubber under the guise that it was collagen or Botox, authorities said Thursday.
Investigators believe there could be at least 30 victims, many of them exotic dancers or sex workers. They're looking into one possible death.
Nohemi Gabriela Gonzalez, 46, was charged with the unlicensed practice of medicine. A judge set bond at $500,000, and she hadn't yet retained a lawyer.
Gonzalez allegedly traveled among spas and massage parlors offering her services, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said. Gonzalez allegedly made injections in lips, buttocks and legs. An advertisement seized by authorities advertised the treatments as collagen with a starting price of $250.
"This woman has done a lot of damage," Trevino said of Gonzalez.
One woman who allegedly received a series of injections in her legs in August has been hospitalized since Oct. 9, when she experienced burning in her ankles and difficulty breathing. She allegedly paid $120 per treatment, Trevino said.
Doctors told investigators they wouldn't have to amputate one of her legs as originally feared, Trevino said, but she has undergone surgery to remove the substance.
Authorities recovered syringes and bottles of what they preliminarily believe was liquid silicone rubber. It has been sent to the Food and Drug Administration for analysis.
Authorities also believe they have identified the family of a woman who died two weeks ago, who may have been a victim of the treatments, Trevino said. If that's confirmed, the body may be exhumed, he said.