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January 15, 2011

Authorities have discovered a Bronx woman running an underground business out of her apartment in which she injected liquid silicone to enhance women’s breasts and buttocks.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York regarding a Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, Whalesca Castillo, who has no medical or nursing license, ran her illegal business of injecting women with liquid silicone she imported from the Dominican Republic since at least 2009. WSBT News reports that the woman ran the business out of her two-bedroom apartment on Inwood Avenue in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx.

Castillo told women the injections were safe and charged hundreds of dollars for each injection.

In the past, people have also become victims of unscrupulous individuals injecting liquid silicone, silicone gel or other dangerous substances to fill face wrinkles, despite the availability of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved wrinkle fillers from licensed medical professionals. Perhaps the most famous example of injection of silicone as wrinkle filler may be the case of Dr. Daniel Serrano, nicknamed Dr. Jiffy Lube, a fake doctor who injected his Beverly Hills clients with industrial grade silicone like that used to lubricate auto parts. Some of his victims included Shawn King, wife of Larry King, and Pricilla Presley.

The FDA allows the use of some silicones in cosmetic use, such as silicone breast implants, but has prohibited the injection of liquid silicone or silicone gel anywhere in the body for cosmetic purposes because it has caused serious and fatal injuries in patients of the United States and elsewhere. Side effects of this type of illegal procedure include permanent lumps within the skin, infection, skin ulceration and potentially fatal pulmonary blood clots.

“Castillo allegedly performed procedures she was not licensed to perform, using substances unapproved for that purpose,” said Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director-in-charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). “She knew what she was doing was illegal, as she told one of her customers. In her thirst for profit, she put lives in peril. The mission of the FBI Health Care Fraud Task Force is not only to minimize the monetary effects of fraud, but to protect the health and safety of the public from unscrupulous practitioners.”

One of Castillo’s patients suffered pain and shortness of breath after receiving $1000 worth of silicone injections and fainted within hours of the procedure. The patient called Castillo to report the side effects and Castillo told her not to seek medical attention, that the hospital would not help her because the procedure was illegal.

“As we allege, Whalesca Castillo put the health of unsuspecting women at risk, all to make a quick buck,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “She compounded the danger in which she placed her clients by allegedly discouraging at least one woman from seeking medical attention after she developed complications from the injections. We will continue to work with our partners at the FBI and the FDA to expose and prosecute such underground operations that seek to profit by offering unsafe treatments at the expense of public health and safety.”

Agents from the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with the New York City’s Police Department, Department of Sanitation and Environmental Police investigating Castillo’s illegal business during November and December of 2010. They collected trash bags from near her home and found over one hundred bottles, some of which were tested and had silicone residue on them, syringes, needles, bloodied gauze and dozens of tubes of Krazy Glue, which authorities say is used by unlicensed medical operations to close puncture wounds.

Castillo is not the first performing illegal buttock enhancement with silicone injections. In June of 2010, a 22-year-old California woman died after receiving a silicone injections in her buttocks by two unlicensed individuals, dubbed the “Silicone Sisters.” In March 2010, six women in New Jersey developed infections and other complications after receiving bogus cosmetic injections of hardware-grade silicone caulk, the same used to caulk bathtubs, as butt enhancements.

Federal authorities have charged Castillo, 36, with one count of distributing an adulterated or misbranded product. She faces a maximum of three years in prison on that charge.

People who received silicone injections from Castillo, or anyone else, should call the FBI’s hotline at 212-384-2400 immediately.

The charges contained in the Complaint against Whalesca Castillo are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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