Karissa and Marco, newlyweds, moved to Los Angeles in 2016 looking for sunny skies and a happy marriage. The couple had just gone through a miscarriage, and Marco hoped the pleasant climate would help Karissa’s depression. “She was very weather dependent,”He said. “She needed always sunlight and warmth.”Marco nearly spits today the name Golden State. “I hate California. I’ll never go back there to that shitty fucking place.”
According to Marco, who asked to be identified by his first name only, the people Karissa met in L.A. lured her into the pursuit of a luxurious Hollywood lifestyle — and the enhanced physical appearance that goes with it. “She got influenced by the allure of the stupid L.A. parties,”He said. “She started to follow those fucking Kardashians, all those plastic bitches. I told her those are fake, they don’t exist. It’s just plastic and lies.”
He tried repeatedly to convince Karissa that she should change her appearance by the fall of 2019. But just like when she’d started stripping at Los Angeles parties, and later, when she began traveling to Nevada to work at legal brothels, he found that convincing his wife to do — or not do — anything was a losing proposition. “She was very stubborn, and if she wanted to do something, she would’ve done it,” Marco says.
Her first cosmetic surgery was to plump up her lips. Soon afterward, she had her butt. On Oct. 15, 2019, Karissa Rajpaul invited two women, Libby Adame, 51, and her daughter Alicia Galaz, 23, to a friend’s home for a buttocks augmentation procedure. The friend who spoke to Rolling StoneHe said, under anonymity that he met Karissa via Instagram and had been on a few dates prior to that day. He also claims that he tried to convince Karissa against the injections and made her promise that she would only undergo an evaluation at his home, not the actual procedure. “I told her, ‘Look, you’re doing something very dangerous, something you should do only with doctors supervising in a medical room or a hospital,’”He said. “She told me, ‘Oh, no, don’t worry, I already did it twice.’ I’m like, ‘Are you crazy?’”
Adame and Galaz arrived around 2 p.m. and took Karissa into a bedroom, where they proceeded to inject what police would later describe as uncontained liquid silicone into Karissa’s buttocks, piercing the muscle and entering her bloodstream. According to an official account, Adame and Galaz arrived around 30 minutes later and took Karissa into a bedroom. There, they injected what police described as uncontained liquid silicone into Karissa’s buttocks, piercing the muscle and entering her bloodstream. He told her that he checked on her and found her near fainting. “I was like, ‘OK, what’s going on with this person? Why is she so weak? She’s passing out,’”He recalls the conversation and said that his parents told him that she only needed sugar. “I ran, I got her some chocolate, Coca-Cola, whatever. I told them, ‘Look, you guys should take her to a hospital.’ They were like, ‘Oh, no, she’ll be fine.’ Of course, she wasn’t fine. She wasn’t responding. She just looked very, very low. When she started passing out, I gave her mouth-to-mouth. I yelled, ‘Call 911! You need to call 911 right now. This is crazy. You’re fucking insane.’”He said that the women finally called 911 and that he opened the gate to paramedics.
Adame and Galaz — neither of whom had medical licenses — had taken all their equipment with them, according to the man who was there, so emergency responders did not know what had happened to Karissa, whom official documentation describes as unresponsive when they arrived. “I knew they injected her with something,”The man said it. “That’s what I told the paramedics when they got here: ‘She had some kind of procedure done on her.’”
Karissa was intubated by emergency medical personnel and her blood pressure stabilized. Karissa was declared dead less than three hours after she received the injections. She was 26. The medical examiner discovered silicone in her puncture wounds, located in the muscle of her buttocks. She died of acute cardiopulmonary dysfunction, according to her autopsy report. The manner in which she died was determined as homicide. “When the police officer came back that night and told me what happened to her, I was completely shocked,” said the man whose house she’d been visiting. “It’s such a shame for anybody to die that way. It’s such a bad tragedy.”
“It wasn’t her fault,” Marco says. “She was really a nice girl, and she didn’t deserve this. She obviously did a mistake and I accept that, but she paid — the price, it’s too much.”
In September, nearly two years after her death, the Los Angeles Police Department announced that Adame and Galaz had been charged with Karissa Rajpaul’s murder, as well as three felony counts of practicing medicine without certification. Authorities say they recovered tens of thousands of dollars in cash from a search warrant executed at the two women’s home. According to medical records, Rolling Stone,Karissa was not the sole person Galaz and Adame harmed by their procedures.
Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton, who runs operations at LAPD’s Valley Bureau, revealed to Rolling StoneNearly 100 people have reported injury or disfigurement from Adame or Galaz procedures since the arrests. Police believe the two used Adame’s notoriety to recruit clients through Instagram and word of mouth. Another police source spoke with Rolling StoneAdame is suspected to have been using illegal home cosmetic procedures since 2012 at the earliest.
Investigators believe that the two women operated a criminal cosmetic-surgery business in which dozens were physically injured. “We’ve already verified that we have victims in other states, and we are working on verifying that we have victims from other countries, as well,”Hamilton stated that Hamilton also said that people came forward from Miami to Toronto, and that new reports are being made. “a daily occurrence.”A number of the people Rolling StoneReached for this article, claimed to have spoken with additional clients of Adame & Galaz, who were afraid to share their stories because they feared reprisal. The full scope of Adame and Galaz’s impact therefore remains to be seen.
Here, there, pinched — Hollywood has long had a love affair with plastic surgery. And thanks to the Kardashification of the American aesthetic, it’s soaring in popularity. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons cosmetic procedures have increased by 22 percent in 20 years. This is due to a high demand for buttocks enhancements. More than 28,000 people had the fat-grafting procedure called the Brazilian buttlift in 2019, compared to 8,500 in 2012. TikTok’s tag #bbl is a popular hashtag that has been viewed more than 3.3 billion times. It allows users to document their trips to Miami or other places to obtain the procedure.
The BBL, in which fat is removed by liposuction from one part of the body and injected into the buttocks, may be the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure nationwide, but it’s also the deadliest. A BBL mortality rate of 5% was estimated by an industry organization. One in 3,000. A 2017 SurveyThree percent of BBL surgeons had seen a patient die. Dr. Arthur Perry is a surgeon who was on the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners. He believes that this mortality rate shows that the procedure can be dangerous and requires more research. “When you hear of a death by a board-certified plastic surgeon doing a Brazilian butt lift, that frightens me the most,”Perry:
The black-market cousin of the BBL is injections, sometimes called butt shots, where a practitioner injects filler like liquid silicone into a client’s buttocks instead of using their own fat. The procedure is banned by the Food and Drug Administration, with the agency even issuing a warning in 2017 against getting butt or breast injections of liquid silicone — which is only approved for retina surgery — or dermal fillers typically used to correct wrinkles in the face. “No injectable filler is FDA-approved for large-scale body contouring or body enhancement,”According to the agency. “These kinds of uses can lead to serious injury, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and even death.”Like a BBL injection, there is a risk that the injection material may accidentally enter the bloodstream. This happens if the needle touches one of the huge blood vessels in the buttocks. The material can move through the body in the same way as a blood clot. It can travel to the brain, heart, lungs or brain and cause strokes or blockages that could lead to sudden death. Since the procedure isn’t typically performed by a qualified medical professional, a client also can’t be sure that they’re really getting the filler they think they are. There are many horror stories about people who have had fillers injected. Bathroom caulk, motor oilAnd even Peanut butter.
BBLs will see the bulk of fat disappear as a matter-of-fact. Fillers may shift around the body. Some customers return for additional treatments because they can alter the shape of their butt. Others describe feeling the same. “addicted”They can return for more if they spot a dimple or a dent.
Not everyone can afford the risky BBL and the thousands of dollars it could cost to have cosmetic surgery. Trans women have used silicone injections below-board to create curves in the past, as they may not have access to appropriate health care or feel unsafe seeking them. In a growing trend called “Unregulated Silicone Injections”, several men have lost their lives after receiving unregulated injections. “pumping,”Some gay men want to look larger. Cardi B stated that she had paid $2000 for her first car when she was 22 years old. $800To have fillers in her buttocks in an apartment located in Queens. “In the club, it’s like you’re almost invisible if you don’t have a big ass like that,”She said it in a 2016 interviewShe said that she regretted getting it. “I don’t really know what’s in my ass right now,”She said. “I could die. Who knows?”
In recent years, below-board injection outfits have been the subject of criminal charges and prison sentences. Tracy Lynn Garner, a Mississippi woman, was sentenced in 2014 to life imprisonment “depraved heart murder”Karima Gordon was killed by illegal silicone injections. Garner, a Georgian woman, performed the injections after being referred to her from a third person. Garner claimed Garner was an nurse but had no medical training. Garner died in prison. Padge Victoria Windslowe of Philadelphia, also known as the Black Madam was sentenced in 2015 to a 10-20 year prison term for third-degree criminal murder in the killing of a 20 years-old British woman. Her heart stopped after she was injected with almost a quarter of a gallon silicone. Windslowe charged between $1,500 and $1,800 for her services. She claimed that she started the business to help other transgender people in the same way as injections had helped me. “Being transgender, for so many years … I was imprisoned in my mind,”She In court “When someone helped me with those injections, I basically felt like an ugly duckling turned into a swan.” In 2017, a Miami woman, Oneal Ron Morris, got 10 years in prison for injecting customers’ buttocks with a mixture of cement, mineral oil, superglue, and Fix-A-Flat tire mender.
Even if an individual does not die instantly from an injection, there are serious complications that can occur years later. These include open wounds that leak fluids and infections that lead to sepsis, or even necrosis. Some complications can lead to nerve damage, organ damage, or even the need for amputation. A black-market procedure can cause problems that make it difficult for patients to seek care. According to Dr. Perry, some doctors may even be hesitant to treat people who come showing issues from a black-market procedure, because of the liability the patient’s condition could bring. “Plastic surgeons are not thrilled to take care of these things,”He said. “Not because they don’t care about the patients, but unfortunately, [if] you have this procedure [done] by someone else, then you go to the emergency room and you get a plastic surgeon, and now you’re that plastic surgeon’s patient, guess who gets sued?”
Adame is a well-known figure.She is a fixture in the local party scene. Her private Instagram account has over 11,000 followers. She is known as “Boots” “La Tia,”Her exaggerated hourglass curves are favored by dresses that hug them. Her dark, long hair falls over her shoulders and is parted in her middle. An anonymous woman said that she had been told by another woman. Rolling StoneAdame was initially known to her as a socialite, and a figure in social media. “Girls that I used to work with would post about her parties, and I was intrigued,”According to the woman. “From what I know, she used to reside in Huntington Park. That’s where all her lavish parties would start. Then, she’d be over up in the Hills somewhere.”
Public records indicate that Adame was a resident of Huntington Park as well as South Gate. Former clients also allegedly received injections from Adame in Bell. Bell is a small community located between Huntington Park (I-701) and Huntington Park. This area of southeast Los Angeles County is located approximately 15 miles east from LAX. It’s cordoned off to the south by the 105 freeway and by the concrete banks of the Los Angeles River to the east. More than 90% of the population is Latino. Many people speak Spanish. (Hamilton said). Rolling StoneThe LAPD has added Spanish-speaking officers to its investigation to interview the many people who have made complaints about Adame or Galaz. A little over 20% of families live below the poverty level and many are employed as essential workers such as grocery-store clerks and janitors.
Adame’s reach was not limited to Southeast L.A., however. Karissa Rajpaul used Adame’s reputation to reassure the friend she was with in suburban Sherman Oaks, on the northwest side of the Hollywood Hills, the day she died. “She told me that woman is famous for doing those things, that she had tons of customers she deals with,”He says it. Rolling Stone. “She told me, ‘Everybody knows her. She’s an Instagram celebrity.’”
Police have stated that she used her online status to recruit clients. According to Deputy Chief Hamilton, in the best cases, Adame and Galaz took peoples’ money for procedures that did nothing. In the worst instances, he says, they disfigured people — or, in Karissa’s experience, killed them. “Some people now have permanent limited mobility, some people have permanent wounds — scars that have not healed,”Hamilton: “And quite frankly, some of these issues, I don’t know if they can be repaired by even a qualified medical professional.”
When Rolling Stone attempted to reach Adame and Galaz for comment, a phone number listed for their most recent residence — an ornate mansion in Riverside, according to public records — was out of service. A representative from the L.A. District Attorney’s Office said it is unclear whether Adame and Galaz have retained a lawyer, as neither has had their first court appearance yet. Adame didn’t respond to an Instagram message she sent. Galaz, who holds a current manicurist’s license in California, has more than 10,000 followers on her Instagram account where her bio shows a Lebanese and a Mexican flag. (She did not reply to a press-time message. Her booking photo shows her smiling peacefully, with her eyebrows manicured, her dark hair in pigtails, and her lips a pointed bow.
Laura Moreno didn’t even really thinkShe required butt injections. Los Angeles-based Mexican banda music singer felt that she already had a nice, thick butt. “I had my own,”She says. “I was not flat.”She was also scared of the procedure. It was suggested by a friend, but she was afraid of the procedure and leaning on Moreno, believing it would benefit her music career. “She was like, ‘You will look prettier, you’re a singer, you will look good,’”Moreno is also known as Jaddie More.
Moreno said that Adame was a woman she knew who visited her in the early part of 2014. This made her feel more at home. She says she met Adame at a beauty salon where Adame charged her between two and three thousand dollars. He also injected her glutes using what she had told Moreno. celulas madres — stem cells. Moreno felt safe and secure. Everything was fine the first time. After Moreno went back to the salon for a second treatment, performed by one of Adame’s colleagues, however, her left leg started hurting. “The pain was getting worse, and worse, and worse,”So she said, she went back to Adame a third times. “I told her I was feeling bad and my leg was hurting, and she injected me [with] something that she said was for the pain … and for the infection, if I had something.”
After she left Adame’s salon that January day, she met her then-girlfriend for a meal. She suddenly felt sick in the restaurant. She felt very sick. “I didn’t even eat because I started throwing up everything and wanted to go to the bathroom and, like, nothing was in my body,”She says. She almost fainted when they ran to leave the restaurant. “I saw everything black, black.”Her girlfriend helped her get back to her apartment on the second floor. Moreno was afraid of her and she wanted to take her girlfriend to the hospital. “I have never been in a hospital. I don’t like hospitals. I don’t like doctors,”She says. “I’m like, ‘No, it’s OK. It’s going to pass.’ But it didn’t pass; I was just getting worse.”She requested blankets as she was feeling cold and then ripped off the layers minutes later. She went to and fro in the bathroom, trying to evacuate everything. She was unable to consent to be taken to the hospital so a neighbor had her carried downstairs to the car. Moreno felt tired on the drive but her girlfriend insisted that she not close her eyes. According to medical records shared by her, she was admitted to hospital in septic shock. Rolling Stone. The records also confirmed she’d had multiple gluteal injections. “The doctor said that if I would have [gotten] there 10 minutes later, I would have died,”She says.
Sgt. James Corcoran at the Bell Police Department confirmed Moreno filed a police report following Adame’s and Galaz’s arrests, when authorities invited more victims of the women to come forward. That wasn’t the first time she’d tried, though — as she told Corcoran that day, Moreno had attempted to make a police report in January 2014, after she got out of the hospital, but says that officers had barely listened to her at the time. “They sent us always to another place, like, ‘You need to go to the court, you need to see a judge,’”She tells Rolling Stone. “They don’t give attention to something that for them [is] not big, but for us it’s something big.”
Galaz and Adame were married Aug. 5, 2021.According to a criminal complaint, both were taken into custody and held on $2,000,000 bail. They were released on bond in less than two days. The LAPD didn’t announce the charges until late September, leading to confusion among some people who were alarmed to learn that the notorious La Tia was out of jail as quickly as it seemed she’d been inside. In the days following the news broke, Instagram posted several videos that appeared to show Adame enjoying the city and celebrating her freedom. In one, she’s seated in a restaurant bragging about the fact that news reports say she’s in jail, as a server presents her with a platter of steak.
The videos of the minor social media celebrity created a stir among her loved ones. Karissa Rajpaul’s husband, Marco, was livid about the videos. “Seeing that fucking bitch, she’s enjoying life right now,”He said. “They’re sending me stories from instagram of La Tia. There’s videos of her saying, ‘I’m out of jail,’ eating expensive steak. She’s surrounding by all these people saying ‘Look at the stupid cops.’ She’s out having fun. It hurts me a lot that she’s out. She’s laughing as though she’s not [charged with] murder.”
Galaz’s first court date is set for December, and Adame won’t appear until February. Asked how authorities are monitoring the women to keep them from continuing to administer illegal injections or fleeing the country, the L.A. District Attorney’s Office replied, “There is no additional information to provide at this time.”
Hamilton stated that the LAPD will be working with federal authorities to help in the investigation into possible trafficking of materials substances, as well as other individuals who might have been involved. “There are commerce issues, and laws that have been broken both statewide and nationwide, and probably some internationally, which I’m pretty sure our federal partners will help us bring to ground,”He said.
Huntington Park worker says she has spoken with many people who have had similar experiences with Adame over the past 10 years but are too afraid to share their stories. “They’re all too afraid to even speak out because they’re saying that other people are being harassed by her and her people,”She said that she was able to convince one of her friends to file a report with the police.
If they aren’t getting underground surgeries from Adame, she fears, it will be someone else. “Most people that I know have gone in for certain procedures,”She says. “It is unfortunately a big thing in the Latin community at the moment. It’s like the new favorite pair of jeans. It’s a trend that everybody’s following.”
The pursuit of unreal beauty Standards have ripped people from their loved ones, and taken away the lives they had built together.
When California sunshine didn’t alleviate Karissa’s mental-health struggles, Marco got them a pair of pit bull sisters, Stardust and Diamond. Karissa was devoted to their care. “It was giving her a lot of joy,”Marco said that his voice was breaking. “They were her little babies.”
She became an avid advocate for the breed, attending many events to increase understanding. She met people at these events and was introduced to an agency that offered her a job dancing at private parties. Karissa’s stripping caused strife between her and Marco. “She started touring out with people that I didn’t approve of,”He said. In August 2017, they separated and he filed for divorce. Shortly before she began working at Mustang Ranch outside Reno, he also filed for divorce. He claims he never filed for divorce, but court records show that he filed to disqualify the proceedings in February 2018.
By then, Karissa was making money — lots of money, it seemed — between the parties and stints at the Mustang Ranch. “Face it, I wasn’t born to live a basic life,”She tweeted that January from an account in which she promoted herself as a “regular” person. “legal luxury courtesan.”Diamond was her nickname, which is the same as her beloved pet dog. She posted photos of the gem-encrusted trinkets clients had sent her along with invitations for ranch visits. In one Instagram video she shows off a pile of $100 bills inside a car.
By April 2019, Karissa had begun dabbling in cosmetic procedures. On social media, she invited clients to pay for her services. “Lip injections on Wednesday … Cash App pinned,”She tweeted the following at the time. One Instagram story highlights from that summer shows her naked and on a high-bed, while a woman wearing purple exam glove leans over her backside.
Marco believes that Karissa is connected with Adame at the same time. “Somehow through friends of friends she came into contact with this fake witch doctor that would perform these type of injections for less money,” Marco says. “And she was not lucky enough.”
With Adame’s and Galaz’s arrests coming nearly two years after Karissa’s death, Marco wants to know what took the LAPD so long. “Until one month ago, when La Tia was arrested, she was still performing all these procedures on all these other girls after she killed my wife,”He said. The LAPD believes she did perform illegal procedures after Rajpaul’s death. According to Deputy Chief Hamilton, they were building a case. “You don’t necessarily want to tip your hand on other investigations,”He said.
Karissa’s loved ones want justice for her murder and to see the pattern of botched surgeries end. “She’s gone because of two individuals that wanted to make a quick dollar taking advantage not only her, but of a bunch of women,” says Kary Quirarte, a fellow animal lover and Karissa’s friend for more than five years. “We’re still grieving.… I feel like, unfortunately, [Karissa] had to be sacrificed for their practice to be done or them to go to prison if they do, so no other person would go through it.”
Nancy Dillon also reports