LGBTQ+ Londoners targeted by Colombian thieves who used fake Grindr profiles and sleeping drug

A mugshot of Brandon Conrado-Gamboa
-Credit: (Image: MPS)

A pair of Colombian thieves flew to the UK to spike and rob Londoners by luring victims with fake dating profiles and knocking them out with sleeping pills. Brandon Conrado-Gamboa, 30, and his accomplice Nelson Alexander Escobar Porras, arrived in the capital in December 2022 and began their reign of terror on the LGBTQ+ community.

In total, four victims were spiked with the drug zolpidem, a medicine normally used for insomniacs that helps people fall asleep. The South American duo contacted the victims on Grindr, a gay dating app, then drugged them and stole high-value items in a series of aggravated burglaries between December 31 2022 and January 9 2023, in Brentford, Hampton, Hounslow and Bromley.

After a probe by the Met, which says it is cracking down on spiking, Conrado-Gamboa was arrested at Gatwick Airport on February 23 this year. Porras, his accomplice, however, is still wanted by the force, having fled the UK for Barcelona in Spain, it is believed. The Met and the Crown Prosecution Service are working with Spanish Authorities to extradite Porras back to the UK.

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A pile of drug packets
The drugs used by the men to send their victims to sleep and steal their possessions -Credit:MPS

Conrado-Gamboa was jailed for 11 years on Friday (May 24), after being convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. The case was put together with CCTV footage, phone data and information from airlines to show how Conrado-Gamboa and Porras planned their crimes and flew to England one day before their devious crime spree.

The victims were also able to provide screenshots from their conversations on the dating app, while the investigation team also found evidence of the pair attempting to sell stolen goods.

Police Constable Sade Kujore-Taylor, who led the investigation said: "Both men maliciously preyed on victims using a dating app and exploited their trust. My team worked long hours in a bid to gather evidence against Gamboa which led to the conviction."

Detective Chief Inspector Dan O'Sullivan, One of the Met's LGBT+ leads, said: "As the Met reforms, we are doing more to protect and support LGBT+ victims, while tackling spiking and bringing callous offenders to justice. My team worked incredibly hard throughout this investigation, PC Sade Kujore-Taylor was rightly commended by the judge at sentencing for her diligence in such a complex investigation.

"We take all reports of spiking incredibly seriously and work closely with partners, such as Gallop, to build confidence with LGBT+ communities and encourage them to tell the police if they suspect they've been victim of crime. You can report spiking anonymously online on behalf of yourself or someone else at Report spiking | Metropolitan Police."

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