On the internet, she goes by the name Vanessa Luna, starring in porn videos that highlight her ample rear end.
Police believe she used her real name, Ruth Planas, to help women enlarge their own butts by operating an unlicensed clinic in a West Miami-Dade strip mall.
The clinic, called Cuerpos Health and Aesthetic, was shuttered after a 28-year-old mother, Suyima Torres, died following a botched butt lift performed there. Prosecutors have charged Jose Robusto, a purported medical doctor in Venezuela, who they believe injected Torres with illegal and dangerous liquid silicone at the facility.
But nearly a year after his arrest, authorities have been unable to build a case against clinic owner Planas, who claimed no injections were ever done at the business. Planas insisted she only used the clinic to sell cosmetic products, pitch Herbalife nutritional supplements and, a couple times a week, perform on live X-rated web videos.
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Yet, in newly released statements, witnesses say that Planas arranged and helped carry out illegal cosmetic surgeries there. Still, the statements have not carried enough weight for prosecutors to charge Planas with practicing medicine without a license or for arranging the two procedures that led to Torres’ death.
Torres’ family attorney, Jorge Silva, believes that criminal charges should be filed against Planas and her sister.
“Undoubtedly, I genuinely believe that anyone who played a role to one extent or another in this woman’s demise should be held accountable,” he said.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle would not talk specifics about the case but said the probe is far from closed. She urged other possible victims or witnesses to come forward.
“We will always keep searching for evidence and developing leads to seek justice for this victim — and victims in similar bad procedures,” Fernandez Rundle said. “We want our community to assist and contact us.”
Planas’ attorney, George Pallas, said the fact that no charges have been filed proves her innocence.
“Ruth Planas did not work with or for Jose Robusto. My exhaustive review of the evidence … led me to conclude that she had nothing at all to do with the unfortunate death of Suyima Torres,” Pallas said.
Robusto, who claims to be a doctor in Venezuela, is awaiting trial for manslaughter, one of many high-profile cases involving botched cosmetic surgeries in South Florida — a hub for sham doctors who offer cheap cosmetic procedures performed in homes, warehouses and pseudo clinics.
Just last week, a Miami man was arrested after police said he gave butt injections to a woman who wound up in the hospital because of the procedure. In another case, a judge on Friday is scheduled to sentence a woman after she was nabbed trying to give a Botox injection to an undercover Miami-Dade detective.
Most infamously, a Miami Gardens transgender woman named Oneal Ron Morris made worldwide headlines for injecting cash-strapped women with a concoction of Fix-a-Flat tire sealant, cement, silicone, mineral oil and super glue. She is facing a manslaughter charge after one woman died in Broward County.
As for Planas, her clinic shut down in 2013. Her version of events is laid out in statements to homicide detectives and in a civil deposition as part of a lawsuit filed by Torres’ family.
Planas claimed she used to be a technician for a plastic surgery clinic owned by her child’s father before opening up Cuerpos Health and Aesthetic, 8410 West Flagler St., in 2011. She also said she was a medical assistant trained to draw blood from patients.
She pursued other professional interests as well. The 37-year-old mother for years has performed under the name of “Vanessa Luna,” making explicit videos either at the clinic, her home or a Doral-area studio used by the infamous porn company BangBros.
In an interview with police and a civil deposition in a wrongful death lawsuit by Torres’ family, Planas described her clinic simply as a place to sell beauty products. The state of Florida licensed the business only to perform massages.
The business used fliers and Facebook to advertise plastic surgeries. Planas said she was only a middleman that would “refer” surgeries to reputable doctors — all for cash.
She insisted that Robusto never performed invasive procedures at the clinic and neither did anyone else. Her sister, Olga Fernandez, also worked there as a receptionist; Fernandez could not be reached for comment and it was unclear whether she had an attorney.
“We did not even have a needle in there,” Planas told lawyers in a deposition.
But in statements entered into evidence in the criminal case against Robusto, multiple witnesses identified Planas as the ringleader, with Fernandez assisting him during the actual surgeries.
Planas laid out prices, took photos and inspected clients’ rear ends to gauge the amount of filler substance needed “so it can get fuller,” said Banesa Bernal, a former client, adding Planas’ role was “to take pictures, she gives you the price, she lets you know how many procedures you need.”
Another former client, Dailen Garcia-Hurtado, had the initial enhancement done. “When I went back, I explained to Ruth, who is the owner of the clinic, that I wanted to have my buttocks like hers and she has 900 CCs,” she told police. “So, when I went for the touch-up, I put more.”
It was Garcia-Hurtado’s return trip in March 2013 — much like Torres’ later — that proved to be a nightmare.
“When I’m laying on the bed, I begin to tell [Planas] that I wasn’t feeling well,” Garcia-Hurtado said. “My heart was racing and I was seeing black or darkness. I was trembling.”
Planas allegedly suggested the problem could be that she had not eaten breakfast. A dizzy Garcia-Hurtado returned to her job downstairs at a nail salon, but soon had to go to the hospital. Troubled doctors found blood in her lungs. “They told me I was going to die,” she said.
Garcia-Hurtado survived — but still has trouble breathing and seeing. “I see gray spots,” she said. “It looks like I’m looking through or at sand.”
Although prosecutors did not charge anyone for her surgery, Garcia-Hurtado’s testimony is still key. She identified Robusto, 44, as the one who actually performed the injections, something jurors will likely be allowed to hear at his trial for Torres’ death.
Torres was a mother of two who was trying to rebuild her life after having served more than a year in federal prison for Medicare fraud. She was arrested in 2008 along with her former husband and his parents.
Just before her death, she had opened a shoe kiosk, Suyi’s Boutique, at the International Mall in Doral, with hopes of expanding it into a chain. After two children, Torres had committed to exercising, lost weight and “wanted to fill in” her rear end, recalled her aunt.
“She wanted to see herself prettier,” said her aunt, Fortunata Amparo Lopez-Camara. “She wanted to be natural … nothing voluminous.”
A friend recommended Torres to the Cuerpos clinic; the name means “bodies” in Spanish. Her first procedure came on April 1, 2013, witnesses told police. That day, Torres paid $1,500 in cash for the butt enhancement, which was given directly to Planas, recalled her aunt, who accompanied her during the initial visit.
As the procedure unfolded, Planas fetched the injections that Torres believed were collagen. Fernandez served as Robusto’s assistant. “She would hand him the injections already filled with whatever substance they were using,” Lopez-Camara said.
During the surgery, as she lay on a clinic bed, Torres snapped a selfie that showed a man in a plaid shirt — believed to be Robusto — injecting her buttocks with the filler.
By all accounts, Torres believed the first surgery went well. She even considered going bigger, her aunt recalled.
Five days later, Torres returned to the clinic, but her backside was still too swollen to have the sutures removed.
Then on April 11, 2013, she returned for a second procedure, this time by herself, according to a Miami-Dade police report. Torres collapsed outside the clinic and was rushed to Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, where she died later that day.
The medical examiner’s office ruled Torres died of an embolism; her blood was tainted with silicone. The Torres family has since filed a lawsuit against Doctors Hospital, alleging they failed to treat her properly.
Planas acknowledged that Robusto “had a key” to the clinic, suggesting he rented space there. He left Miami for Venezuela, until May 2016, when he was arrested at Miami International Airport during a layover to Aruba.
For prosecutors, the evidence against Robusto on that second day is not overwhelming — there were no eyewitnesses to the procedure. In an interview with Miami-Dade police, Robusto swore he only went to the clinic occasionally for “training” on cosmetic procedures with a mysterious doctor named Jorge or Rene. Planas, he noted, was present at some of the surgeries and owned the facility.
However, he acknowledged injecting butts on several occasions, including the first surgery on Torres, along with the supposed unidentified doctor.
“He did one side, I did the other side,” Robusto said.
However, Robusto would not acknowledge injecting Torres on the second appointment, although he admitted he ran into her as he was leaving the clinic, which he visited to pick up cosmetic products.
“If I was there, I was there only 20 minutes. Really quick,” Robusto said.
As for Planas and her sister, they both denied any butt implants were done that day.
In fact, Planas said Torres visited that day only for a facial. Soon after Planas performed it, Torres began complaining about feeling ill and an ambulance was called.
“As far as you know she didn’t have a cosmetic surgical procedure in your establishment,” a Miami-Dade detective asked her six days after Torres’ death.
“No, none,” Planas replied. “Only what I had done to her.”