The alleged sexual solicitation of a young girl in Madera and the subsequent arrest of the suspected perpetrator have led the Madera Police Department to stress to the public the importance of internet safety.
“This would be a parent’s worst nightmare,” said Madera Police Det. Alicia Keiser, “where their kid is communicating with someone online, and they’re an adult that would arrange this type of meeting with their child.”
According to Keiser, the incident began on Apr. 3, when the mother of a Madera girl, 12, contacted law enforcement regarding a contact that her daughter had made on the internet.
“She contacted us and we spoke to her after seeing some of the messages,” Keiser said. “We believe that the contact was inappropriate in context and we took over control of the juvenile’s Facebook page, acting as her with their permission.”
During the sting, which took place over the course of more than a week, detectives, working in tandem with the Special Investigations Unit, discovered that the suspect, Ricardo Valencia Ramos, 38, was living and working in Madera. In his contacts with the police, he also reportedly sent lewd images to the Facebook page, asking for explicit pictures of the girl as well.
During their conversations, police were then able to arrange a meeting with Ramos. Using a decoy of the girl that Ramos had allegedly contacted, police moved in to arrest the suspect at Pan-American Park on the corner of Sherwood Way and N. Lake Street, where the meeting had been set to take place. Inside the apartment of the suspect, Keiser stated that evidence was found that Ramos intended to have sex with the girl.
Ramos is being held at the Madera County Jail on a bond of $300,000 and awaiting preliminary hearing.
In the meantime, Madera police urged parents to inform and educate their children on being responsible on social media and minding who they message.
“I think it’s very important. I constantly talk to my kids about their use of social media,” Keiser said, “who they’re talking with, not to friend people just to have a million friends or to get a million likes on your pictures.”
For video of the sting, visit the Madera police on Facebook at https://goo.gl/zzjIiT.