A man has been jailed for targeting LGBT+ people in Richmond and other parts of London by conspiring to drug and steal from them.

Brandon Conrado-Gamboa, a Colombian national of no fixed address in the UK, was sentenced yesterday (Friday, May 24).

The 30-year-old was found guilty of conspiring to commit aggravated burglary, drugging and stealing high-value possessions from four victims using the sleeping drug zolpidem.

He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

Met officers worked out that the defendant was targeting London’s LGBT+ communities through the dating app Grindr.

Gamboa’s accomplice, Nelson Alexander Escobar Porras, is still wanted and is believed to be in Barcelona, Spain.

The Met and Crown Prosecution Service are working with Spanish Authorities to extradite Porras back to the UK.

Gamboa was arrested after police responded to reports from victims across London through the Grindr app between December 31, 2022, and January 9, 2023, in Brentford, Hampton, Hounslow and Bromley.

It was soon found that he was not working alone and had an accomplice.

The pair were found to be using fake profiles to lure victims in, drug them and steal their possessions.

After compiling CCTV footage, phone data and information from airlines, police worked out how Gamboa and Porras “meticulously planned their crimes” and flew to England one day before their “spree of offending”.

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.”

The victims supported officers in their investigation, providing screenshots of conversations using the dating app to help build a case against the defendant.

The investigation team also found evidence of the pair attempting to sell the stolen goods.

Gamboa was apprehended at Gatwick Airport on February 23, 2024.

One of the Met’s LGBT+ leads, officer Detective Chief Inspector Dan O’Sullivan, advised around the case.

Following the sentencing today, he 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 on the Metropolitan Police website.”

As the force builds A New Met for London, LGBT+ Community Liaison Officers have been introduced to ensure every LGBT+ person living or working in the capital is confident to report crime, seek help and share their concerns.

Working with Drinkaware, officers are being educated on emerging trends within spiking from research, to better understand how to support members of LGBT+ victims.

Karen Tyrell, CEO of the charity Drinkaware says, "Our research shows that LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to be ‘physically threatened’ and have ‘police contact,’ as a result of other peoples' drinking, compared to non-LGBTQ+ adults, highlighting their disproportionate vulnerability.

"The work of the police in tackling crimes that affect the LGBTQ+ community is really important and successful prosecutions help encourage people to come forward, and report if they have been a victim of a crime, like drink spiking.

“It is important that everyone knows what to do and reports of spiking are taken seriously. If you are worried, you can find out more on our website.”

Advice from the Metropolitan Police on meeting up with people you meet online:

  • Tell someone; a friend, housemate or family member if and when arrangements to meet are made
  • Get a phone number and a live photo/video
  • Migrate from social media apps to a messaging app for additional security
  • Get as much verifiable information from the person as possible
  • Hide your valuables
  • Pour your own drink and keep it in sight
  • Reverse google image search to establish any potential scams
  • Trust your instincts