PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A 52-year-old Putnam County man arrested on child sex charges last week could be involved in human trafficking, the sheriff's office said Monday.
Gerardo Ramirez Carracedo was booked into the Putnam County Jail about 10 p.m. Thursday on seven felony counts of sexual assault on a victim under 12 years old and six felony counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a victim under 12 years old.
Ramirez Carracedo was arrested in St. Johns County on a Putnam County warrant that was obtained because detectives believed he might be a threat to flee the country.
The warrant was obtained by detectives with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit as the result of an ongoing investigation that began when the parents of the juvenile victim came forward to voice their concerns in early April.
The victim’s family became associated with Ramirez Carracedo through his affiliation with primarily Hispanic churches in the South Putnam and North Volusia region.
About the same time that the sex investigation began, the sheriff’s office was contacted by the Department of Homeland Security, which is investigating Ramirez Carracedo’s possible involvement in allegations of forced labor and human trafficking, deputies said.
The Sheriff’s Office will be cooperating with Homeland Security as that investigation proceeds, deputies said.
The sex case investigation is ongoing as well, and it's believed there may be additional victims and that Ramirez Carracedo might have targeted other victims whose families were vulnerable to manipulation because of their fears of being deported, deputies said.
If anyone has any additional information concerning the activities of Ramirez Carracedo, they are asked to contact Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Detective Threasa Owens at 386-329-0819. Owens has asked that people be made aware that anyone who has information regarding this case or who knows of additional victims do not need to be fearful in regards to their current immigration status.
“It takes a special kind of sick person to exploit relationships built through church to target victims for his perverted sexual pleasure,” Sheriff Gator DeLoach said. “There is a special place for people like Ramirez Carracedo. Prison should be the least of his concerns.”