TAMPA — Two people have been arrested after performing liposuction without a license at a self-described Town 'N Country medical center, causing complications that left at least some patients permanently disfigured, authorities said.
Claudia Patricia Orozco, 44, and Marlon Ricardo Barcelo, 40, were arrested Tuesday and charged with practicing medicine without a license and aggravated battery causing bodily harm, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Orozco also faces four counts of organized fraud.
So far, authorities have identified four victims of botched procedures performed at the Orozco Medical Center, 8210 W Waters Ave., sheriff's Maj. Frank Losat said at a news conference.
"We have true victims in this case that are scarred for life in more than one way," Losat said.
The arrests are the result of an 18-month investigation launched after patients complained to authorities about their surgery results. The patients paid as much as $5,500 for a form of liposuction. They endured pain and in some cases infection, leading them to seek treatment at local hospitals, Losat said.
Investigators with the Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Health, working with the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office, reviewed records and interviewed patients who said they were misled into believing they were being treated by doctors, Losat said.
Neither Orozco nor Barcelo are licensed in Florida and are not authorized to perform the procedure.
Orozco claims to be a doctor in Colombia but is licensed to perform only acupuncture and hair removal, according to the Sheriff's Office. She performed procedures on all four victims and Barcelo assisted with two of them, Losat said.
"The scarring is tremendous on these victims," he said. One woman, he said, has to wear a special garment to keep her body from tingling all the time.
A certified doctor on the staff is licensed as a pediatric neurosurgeon but did not take part in the procedures, Losat said.
Investigators consulted with licensed doctors about their findings.
"They were appalled," Losat said. "They were disgusted because they said these are the type of people who give doctors a bad name."
The business website calls the location a "medical center, beauty & spa." No one answered the phone Tuesday at a number listed for the clinic.
Along with state health officials, investigators are working with the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office to develop the case. Investigators believe there are more victims and encourage patients to call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8000.
Orozco and Barcelo were booked into the Hillsborough County jail. Orozco's bail was set at $46,000, Barcelo's at $30,000, records show.
Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.