Spate of druggings and robberies of New York gay men, with two dead

Julio Ramirez was murdered and robbed by killers after a night out in New York
Image: Instagram

Police are investigating a string of druggings and robberies – and two deaths – of gay men in and around gay bars in New York’s gay neighbourhood in Manhattan.

This year, two gay men in the city’s Hells Kitchen neighbourhood were killed in what were thought to be unrelated overdoses.

But numerous other men have been targeted, with thieves drugging them and robbing them of thousands of dollars.

New York City Police’s homicide unit are investigating after Julio Ramirez (pictured above) died in a taxi in April this year.

At around 3.17am, he left a gay bar in Manhattan with a group of men who stole his phone and wallet. The men left Ramirez’s body dumped in the taxi with the horrified driver.

His brother Carlos Ramirez told the New York Times, “Nobody thought it was a crime initially. They had just thought he had taken something.”

But by the time Ramirez’s body was identified, thousands of dollars had been transferred out of his bank accounts following his death.

‘Group of killers targeting gay men’ in New York

The next month, a few miles away John Umberger, was found dead in an Upper East Side home.

He and a group of men left Manhattan’s Q nightclub on May 28. CCTV footage showed Umberger in between two of the men, who guided him to the car.

The 33-year-old’s mother Linda Clary warned New Yorkers of the gang preying on gay men.

“Word needs to get out, especially in the gay community, that they are targeting gay men,” she told the New York Post.

“This same group of killers have drugged, robbed and murdered countless young gay men in New York.”

The NYPD’s homicide unit is investigating both of the deaths.

Toxicology reports showed Ramirez and Umberger both died of drug overdoes. But it’s suspected the men had their drinks spiked with drugs. Umberger had cocaine, lidocaine, and fentanyl in his system.

Since his death, the NYPD has formed a taskforce to investigate at least a dozen similar non-fatal cases.

In those crimes, three men targeted male victims at gay bars, drugging them and robbing them of tens of thousands of dollars.

The medical examiner is also looking at other overdose deaths for possible toxicological links to the criminals.

Deaths first thought to be isolated drug overdoses

At first, locals thought the men’s deaths were isolated drug overdoses. But families soon discovered the missing thousands from the men’s credit cards and bank accounts.

Some of the men who were drugged said police didn’t believe they were victims of crimes and had taken the drugs themselves while partying.

Oscar Alarcon claims he was drugged in March 2020 at the Ritz. The 33-year-old woke up on the floor of a hotel.

“I don’t remember what happened there. I don’t remember how I left. Then I just woke up in a strange hotel lobby,” he told the New York Times.

But he noticed thieves had used transfer $US2,000 from his accounts via apps on his phone.

Alarcon told police who filed a report. But the man said he never heard back and recalled at the time they “didn’t seem interested.”

‘These monsters need to be apprehended’

The New York Times spoke to five others who were drugged at gay bars and robbed by strangers.

Tyler Burt told the outlet he was drugged at gay bar the Boiler Room last December. Thieves stole $25,000 from him and his drug test revealed cocaine he didn’t remember taking.

The 27-year-old’s doctor also believed he’d been drugged with the drug GHB. The date-rape drug is only in a person’s system for a short time and isn’t included on routine NYPD drug tests.

Burt told police who he says were skeptical about whether he’d had been assaulted. He told them “getting drugged is assault.”

“It seemed like they thought being drugged wasn’t even a possibility. They said, ‘Maybe you were but that isn’t really relevant to the robbery,’” he said.

Local New York City Council member, Erik Bottcher, said his office has been “repeatedly assured that the Manhattan District Attorney and the NYPD have teams of senior ADAs and investigators assigned to these cases.”

“We demand justice for the deaths of Julio Ramirez and John Umberger and demand that those responsible for victimizing our community are apprehended,” he wrote on Instagram.


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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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