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Woman dies of heart attack, Calif. massage therapist arrested

Sandra Gonzalez, 45, was jailed on $10,000 bail Thursday night on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, after a woman suffered a fatal heart attack in Gonzalez's Long Beach, Calif. beauty salon CBS Los Angeles

LONG BEACH, Calif. – A woman who advertised “vampire face-lifts” and other cosmetic procedures she wasn’t licensed to perform was arrested after a suspicious death at a Southern California beauty salon, police said Thursday.

Licensed massage therapist Sandra Gonzalez, 45, remained jailed on $10,000 bail Thursday night on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance. She was under investigation by homicide detectives with assistance from the California Medical Board and the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, Long Beach police said in a statement.

Hamilet Suarez, 36, was getting cosmetic injections Wednesday at Areli’s Barber Shop & Beauty Salon where Gonzalez rents a room when she went into cardiac arrest, police said. Paramedics arrived and took her to a hospital, where she was later declared dead.

Police would not immediately say what procedure Suarez was having done or what may have killed her.

“Until the report comes back from the coroner, we can’t determine if it was the procedure or if any drugs possibly administered caused her death,” police Sgt. Megan Zabel told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Investigators at the salon found medical equipment and controlled substances used for cosmetic procedures that Gonzalez was advertising but not licensed to perform, police said. They included “butt augmentation,” “lip augmentation,” and “vampire face-lifts,” where a gel-like substance derived from the patient’s own blood is injected to reduce wrinkles.

“This is very dangerous, it’s life-threatening,” Elizabeth Cuellar, who works two doors down from the salon, told CBS Los Angeles. Cuellar said that women would flock to Gonzalez’s salon to receive butt augmentation injections priced at $1,000.

Gonzalez has been performing the procedures at the salon for about a month and may have been practicing previously elsewhere, police said. They urged any other patients to contact both police and their doctor.

Police did not know if Gonzalez had hired an attorney. After-hours phone message left at the salon and a number listed in her name were not immediately returned.

  • Crimesider Staff

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