Three years of pain and no prisoner. The family of Nataly Céspedes Vásquez, the Cochabamba model who died on December 28, 2019 in Santa Cruz after undergoing cosmetic surgery, continues on a pilgrimage for justice.
The tranquility of the Céspedes Vásquez family was broken from that tragic day. They find no consolation and, for almost three years, they have been detectives to locate those responsible for the death. They ran out of savings, sold their assets and resorted to loans. The premise, justice for Nataly.
The 26-year-old was one of the favorite candidates for Miss Cochabamba 2020, a contest for which she was preparing. Her parents Grover Max and María Luz saw her for the last time on the night of December 25, 2019 when she said goodbye to them and left her home in Cochabamba, bound for Santa Cruz. Little did they know that the purpose of that trip was cosmetic surgery.
María Luz called her daughter on December 27, before noon, to find out how she was, but she did not answer the phone. It didn’t even cross her mind that her daughter was at risk. Nataly at that time had already entered the operating room of the Urkupiña clinic, a room that had been rented by Richard Alexander Challampa B. (fugitive with a declaration of rebellion) and Saroka Vaneza Justiniano R. (detained in Argentina with an extradition request), who were in charge of the liposculpture and change of breast implants of the Cochabamba model, but they ended up perforating her right renal artery that caused internal bleeding, hypovolemic shock and, after suffering three cardiac arrests, death.
Grover Max, María Luz and their five children (four girls and one boy) found out that Nataly was hospitalized that night, although they did not understand what had happened. A friend of the young woman called her mother to inform her that her daughter was admitted to the Figueroa clinic, where those responsible for the surgery transferred her and left her before fleeing.
Nataly fought for her life for hours. He passed away in the early morning, around 03:00, on December 28. Since then, the Céspedes Vásquez family has lived an ordeal in search of justice.
According to Jazmín Pamela Caballero and Álvaro Vargas, lawyers from VarCab – Multidisciplinary Legal Consultant that deals with the case of Nataly Céspedes, the murder of the young woman changed the lives of her loved ones, who have not been able to resume their activities. “There is not a second of peace for them. They have gotten into debt with various banks, they have lost their house and they have gotten rid of their business. All with the intention of finding justice”, said the jurist in time to mention that VarCab, knowing the situation of the family, provides social support so that the death of the qhochala model does not go unpunished.
AESTHETIC “COMBOS” AND RENTED OPERATING ROOMS
Nataly, like other young women, was contacted by Justiniano, a nurse posing as a doctor. According to the lawyer Jazmín Pamela Caballero, the accused searched through Facebook and other social networks for women who participated in beauty pageants and offered them “combos” of cosmetic surgeries at low prices. They claimed to be experts and even showed false documents to generate confidence in the interested parties.
The Cochabamba model withdrew $1,800 from her account after arriving in Santa Cruz. It is presumed that this money is the amount that was charged for the “combo”.
Nataly was not the only candidate for Miss Cochabamba 2020 who believed in that offer. Another young woman was going to put herself in the hands of Challampa, a general practitioner without a specialty in cosmetic surgery, and Justiniano’s assistant, on December 28, but the death of Céspedes Vásquez stopped her surgery.
The network made last minute changes. Justiniano had told Nataly that her surgery was going to be performed in a clinic located on the fourth ring road in Cotoca, but he sent her a taxi, arguing that the place was new, and then told her that the intervention would take place at the Urkupiña de Satélite Norte clinic.
The qhochala model had arrived on December 26 at her friend’s house. That day, she told him that Justiniano had done some tests prior to her surgery and that everything had gone well. The next day, at around 09:00, she left the building. Through a WhatsApp message, she told her friend that she should not go to the fourth ring because the place of the intervention had changed and she was further away from her. She replied that she would go see her when she finished the surgery, but Nataly didn’t answer her anymore.
He wrote and called to no avail. She at first thought that her friend’s phone had run out of battery. At 3:00 p.m., she decided to call Justiniano to ask about Nataly and she told him that the surgery had not started because the operating room was full. She asked him to let her know when the intervention is over.
The worried friend called again at 8:00 p.m., but Justiniano did not answer his phone. Shortly after, she returned the call and informed him that her friend had suffered a mishap during surgery and that they transferred her to the Figueroa Clinic where she was supposedly in the room, but stable.
Friendship headed to the hospital. She met the alleged medical professional, who told her that Nataly had suffered a bronchospasm as soon as the surgery had started and that, immediately, they decided to transfer her to a clinic that had intensive care. She knew that the diagnosis was different; Nataly could remain in a vegetative state. Her friend contacted Céspedes’s sister and boyfriend to inform them of the situation.
According to Milton GC’s statement, one of the owners of the Urkupiña clinic rented the operating room for 500 bolivianos (per surgery). He said that Challampa looked for him in July 2019 to tell him that he performed surgeries in different Santa Cruz clinics and showed him and left him a copy of his documents. He told her that he specialized in plastic surgery in Argentina. His colleague gave him the go-ahead so that he could almost immediately start performing his interventions. He went with his collaborators, including Justinian. Sometimes the anesthesiologist varied.
WITHOUT BEING SURGEONS
The jurist Jazmín Pamela Caballero reported that José Antonio CF, an anesthesiologist who participated in Nataly’s surgery and is prosecuted for her death, confirmed that Justiniano and Challampa were in charge of the procedure.
The anesthesiologist stated that there were four other professionals in the operating room. In addition to Challampa and Justiniano, there was the instrumentalist and the circulator.
According to his testimony, Justiniano performed the liposuction for at least an hour, until 1:50 p.m. Challampa then proceeded to inject the fat into the buttocks; but when he was performing the procedure on the right side they heard a noise that was unusual.
“I can’t breathe.” Nataly manages to tell them that before falling unconscious, according to Caballero. The young woman suffered two cardiorespiratory arrests averaging 2:15 p.m. and 2:20 p.m. The therapist of that clinic, who had no patients in the service, but upon receiving the call, was constituted at 3:40 p.m. and told them that the patient’s condition was critical and required a skull tomography. They decided to request that service and intensive care at the Figueroa clinic. The ambulance made the transfer at 16:20.
Nataly’s family claimed the delay. They believe that timely help could save his life.
WHERE ARE THE ACCUSED?
Lawyer Álvaro Vargas reported that there are four defendants for the culpable homicide of Nataly Céspedes.
1. Richard Alexander Challampa B. has declaration of rebellion. He is the doctor who, without being a plastic surgeon, performed the surgery. The last thing they heard about him is that he is in Miami, United States. He has American nationality.
Vargas said Challampa has a criminal record for malpractice; more than 12 cases against him. In 2015, Brazilian women denounced that they were victims of that doctor. There was an extradition order, but it was not executed. Years later he returned to Bolivia and continued to perform cosmetic surgeries until he ended Nataly’s life.
2. Saroka Vaneza Justiniano R. She is a nurse, but she pretended to be a doctor and performed cosmetic surgeries with Challampa. According to Vargas, she fled at dawn on December 28, 2019. The police arrived at her property at 07:00 and she was no longer there.
Nataly’s family acted as a private detective. She traveled to Argentina and located the neighborhood where she was taking refuge, while she had a declaration of rebellion in Bolivia. The data obtained was socialized with Interpol. The woman was arrested in the vicinity of a market on November 1, 2022 and brought before a federal judge in the province of Córdoba, who ordered her preventive detention for 45 days, a term that can be extended for up to 15 more days, while Bolivia completes the extradition process.
Vargas explained that they are seeking Justiniano’s extradition in two ways; the diplomatic and party instance.
Regarding the first, the Sixth Criminal Sentencing Court of Santa Cruz authorized the request for preventive detention of Justiniano for the alleged commission of the crime of manslaughter and illegal practice of medicine. Likewise, it requested the competent authorities of the Argentine Republic to grant the extradition so that the woman can be judged in Bolivia.
The lawyer pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must coordinate with its counterpart in Argentina for extradition.
To activate the other route, Nataly’s family, together with the lawyer, will travel to Argentina on November 28 in order to present the documentation of the case before a federal judge and expedite the extradition.
3. Milton GC He is a general surgeon and was the owner of the Urkupiña clinic. He said that he rented the operating room to Challampa. The authorization for its operation had expired in July 2019 and, as revealed in the process, they did not submit a renewal request. After Nataly’s death, the place was closed.
4. Jose Antonio CF is the anesthesiologist. He said that since 2016 he had been working at the request of the Urkupiña clinic, that is, without a contract. He was in the intervention made to Nataly. The last two are under house arrest without guards and with the right to work. It is expected that on November 24 the allegations will continue and then a sentence will be passed against them for the homicide of the Cochabamba model.