HELL’S KITCHEN, Manhattan (PIX11) — The death of Brooklyn social worker Julio Ramirez, who was last seen getting into a taxi outside a popular gay club, may be tied to a robbery ring that drugs its victims, according to law enforcement sources.
“It appears to be a pattern,” one source told PIX11 News. “There’s a group going around.”
The source said the ring was targeting people in Hell’s Kitchen, especially those who appeared like they were drinking. One member of the ring may be posing as a taxi or Uber driver.
“This is the first case where somebody died,” the source added.
The source said the victim typically gets into the cab, only to be coerced into giving up bank codes.
In the hours and days after Julio Ramirez was found dead in the back of a taxi on April 21, more than $20,000 had been moved out of his accounts.
A second source told PIX11 News homicide detectives are working on the case, even though there’s been no determination yet on the cause of death.
Julio Ramirez, 25, was found unresponsive in a cab on the Lower East Side on April 21 at around 4:30 a.m. There were no signs of trauma to his body. He was last seen getting into the cab with three men outside the Ritz Bar and Lounge on West 46th Street at about 3:15 a.m. on the same day.
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner has been in touch with the parents of Julio Ramirez, Salvadoran immigrants that live on Long Island.
Karinina Quimpo, a close friend of Ramirez, said the family learned there are rings operating that use drugs as a means of getting bank information from a target–with the intent to rob.
The circumstances surrounding Julio’s death were a tragic end for the younger son of Julio and Ana Ramirez.
Just last year, Julio Ramirez, Jr. received a dual Master’s degree in public health and social work from the University of Buffalo. He was passionate about doing mental health counseling in the underserved communities of Brooklyn. Ramirez was living in Bushwick.
Ramirez’ family has begun special Catholic prayers this week to mark the 40 days that have passed since his death.
On Wednesday night, community advocates in Hell’s Kitchen are planning a vigil and march in honor of Julio Ramirez that will begin near the Ritz Bar and continue on to Times Square. They’re hoping to get answers soon from the Medical Examiner’s office, which is still doing toxicology testing on the remains of Julio Ramirez.