The deaths of several people at New York City pubs and nightclubs have been linked to drugs poisoning, which police believe was part of a plot by criminal gangs to incapacitate and loot their victims.
On Thursday, police and prosecutors stated that the deaths, which they estimate to number at least five, span several months and appear to be the work of separate groups using identical tactics.
Partygoers risk being drugged to unconsciousness by masked men who subsequently steal their belongings and sometimes use the victims’ digital banking information to empty their accounts. The body of 29-year-old chef Norbu Sherpa was discovered on a sidewalk in March. He had just left a club where he had been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
In April, 25-year-old social worker Julio Ramirez was killed in a taxi after leaving a Manhattan pub with several guys. His family found out afterward that some of his savings had been taken.
A political strategist named John Umberger, 33, was found dead in his apartment after an apparent drug overdose in May. Umberger was a guest from Washington, D.C. CCTV footage saw him leaving a trendy nightclub with the help of a few strong men. His bank account was likewise emptied of funds.
Other males had reported that they, too, had been drugged by strangers and found their money missing
The murders of Sherpa and Ardijan Berisha, both 26, remain unexplained. Still, on Thursday, the Manhattan district attorney stated that Kenwood Allen, of the Bronx, has been charged with murder in both cases.
South Salem native Berisha and his friend were so drunk in a Lower East Side tavern in July that they passed out on the pavement. Prosecutors allege that Allen robbed both victims after drugging them with fentanyl. There are three other cases where the victims lived, all of which involve him. Allen’s sister had declared her brother innocent.
‘My brother is not a killer,’ Lauren Allen, 39, firmly stated. My sibling has always been the provider for his mom and sisters. No gang is recruiting him. He is not part of a gang that engages in widespread drug dealing and robbery. That’s not the case; don’t be silly.
As for the other murders, they are still being looked at, but thus far, nobody has been charged. “No one should be afraid that a night out at a Manhattan bar with friends could end in tragedy,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
According to NYC Lt. Det. Dave Leonardi,some victims were given a combination of narcotics, including lidocaine, fentanyl, and cocaine
There was fear that gay males were being targeted explicitly after the deaths of Ramirez and Umberger. Both were found dead after exiting LGBTQ establishments in the Big Apple. Many victims and their families feel the police should have responded more quickly to the atrocities.
Linda Clary, Umberger’s mother from Dawsonville, Georgia, expressed her dissatisfaction with the police response after hearing reports of Ramirez’s death and accounts from others. The NYPD “should have sounded the alarm bells to say this is going on, people need to be wary, but they didn’t,” she added, referring to the number of reported cases.
James Essig, the head of the NYPD’s detective division, has stated that the thefts are not limited to the LGBT community. They aren’t specifically going after gay members, he emphasized. “The only motivation for this is financial.”
Beverly Tillary, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, an organization that fights for LGBTQ communities, noted that despite this, concerns about potential targeting persist. She explained, “There’s some sense of being on edge and not knowing what might happen next in terms of attacks on our community.”