Hundreds of likely patients saw unlicensed "surgeons"

Victim of surgery speaks out

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HARRIS COUNTY - Harris County sheriff's deputies say a husband and wife arrested last week for allegedly performing surgeries without licenses may have had as many as 200 patients.

A Houston woman who told police she had liposuction and breast augmentation in the master bedroom of the couple's Harris County home spoke out for the first time Wednesday.

Jennifer Martinez told Local 2 Investigates she endured five hours of surgery at the hands of Yuri and Karen Lara.

"He put anesthesia, but at times I felt a needle," Martinez said. "Like it was burning or something."

 Martinez asked Local 2 to use her middle name to conceal her identity.

Martinez said Karen Lara was also present.

"She would be in and out of the room because other people would go to have the procedure done so she would be coming in and out," Martinez said.

The Laras are not licensed physicians with the Texas Medical Board. Both have been charged with unauthorized practice of medicine and possession of a dangerous drug.

The couple's attorney told Local 2 Investigates his clients deny the allegations.

Martinez learned about the couple from a family friend.

"I had very low self-esteem so I thought this might be my chance. They told me they had very good pricing," Martinez said. "I thought they were licensed and everything."

She paid $2,300 for the surgery that took place in May.

After seeing news reports about the October 30 arrest of Yuri and Karen Lara, Martinez' husband pulled up the couple's pictures on his cell phone and showed them to her.

"I knew they were the same people," Martinez said.

She called the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Det. Billy Tipps got the case and was one of the first law enforcement officers inside the home at 15800 Cade Court in northwest Harris County.

"It was a bit surprising with the containers containing the blood, the fat and the body tissues," Det. Tipps said. "There were machines lined around the wall. There was an ultrasound machine, EKG machine, liposuction machine and some kind of laser liposuction machine."

Tipps found numerous patient information sheets and has contacted them.

Those patients have led him to other people inside Houston homes performing surgery without proper licensing.

"I do know of a couple of others," said Det. Tipps. "I would venture to guess there are many more. What these people are doing in these homes is dangerous, it could actually kill you. They get all kind of bad infections."

Detectives were first tipped off about the surgeries by a 41-year-old woman who was admitted to an area hospital after her breast enhancements became infectious and abscessed, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said in an October 31 news release.

Martinez hopes that by coming forward, other patients will contact police.

Harris County Sheriff's Office investigators would like to talk to other patients who have gone to the Lara's operation or other questionable surgery centers.

Victims are asked to call the Harris County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Bureau at 713-967-5810.

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