Maria Ramos de Ruiz is accused of racketeering, tax evasion, fraud and practicing medicine without a license
VIP Salon
VIP Salon and Spa
| Credit: Google Maps

The former owner of a now-shuttered New Mexico salon that offered patrons so-called "vampire facials" was indicted this week on more than 20 felony counts, including racketeering, tax evasion, fraud and practicing medicine without a license.

Maria Ramos de Ruiz, 59, former owner of VIP Beauty Salon and Spa, was formally charged on Monday. The indictment was officially announced by the New Mexico Attorney General's Office on Wednesday.

A statement from the state's attorney general confirms an investigation into Ramos de Ruiz began in 2019, after "at least two of the salon's clients contracted HIV" after receiving "vampire facials," which entails the withdrawal, and re-insertion, of a client's own blood into their face — with micro-needling. The process is purported to refresh the skin.

"The New Mexico Department of Health in August 2018 learned a person with no risk factors for HIV had contracted the bloodborne infection after getting a 'vampire facial' at the VIP Beauty Salon and Spa," the statement explains. "The DOH, the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, and deputy director of Boards and Commissions inspected the VIP Spa the following month."

While they learned Ramos de Ruiz did have a cosmetologist license, it had expired in 2013.

"Ramos de Ruiz told them she does breast and buttocks sculpting, cellulite treatments and 'vampire facials,'" the statement continues. "Inspectors found 'numerous health code violations and unsafe infection control practices,' including unwrapped needles, blood being dumped into the kitchen sink and unlabeled syringes beside food in the refrigerator."

Additionally, the investigation turned up "foreign and American prescription and 'dangerous' drugs, and medical products that required an order from a licensed physician," according to a copy of the indictment.

Inspectors alleged the apparatus used to extract clients' blood and return it to their skin weren't adequately cleaned or disinfected between uses.

They further allege Ramos de Ruiz displayed phony diplomas and educational certificates inside the salon, saying she was trained to perform Botox procedures and "vampire facials."

Ramos de Ruiz was ordered to cease the procedures in late 2018.

Then, in February 2019, it was learned a second person had contracted HIV after receiving "vampire facial" treatments from Ramos de Ruiz, authorities said.

Both clients tested positive for the same strain of the HIV virus.

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Authorities allege 137 clients received "unlicensed and fraudulent services" from Ramos de Ruiz.

Ramos de Ruiz could not be reached for comment.

She is charged individual counts of racketeering and fraud, as well as five counts of practicing medicine without a license, six counts of money laundering, four counts of tax evasion and seven counts of willful failure to collect and pay taxes. It was unclear Thursday if she had entered pleas to the charges, or had a lawyer who could speak on her behalf.