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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 24, 2022

North Park Man Charged with Kidnapping 16-year-old Oklahoma Girl

Assistant U. S. Attorney Amanda L. Griffith (619) 546-8970    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – June 24, 2022

SAN DIEGO – Ramsey Manuel Cervantes faces federal kidnapping charges in connection with the abduction and sexual assault of a 16-year-old Oklahoma girl who had been reported as a missing runaway by her father on June 15.

The victim was rescued from her alleged captor’s North Park home by San Diego police after she was able to use his cell phone to call for help. Cervantes was subsequently arrested. He made his initial appearance in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Butcher. A detention hearing is set for June 30 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal.

According to the complaint, the victim met 22-year-old Cervantes on a social media application several months ago. The victim believed Cervantes was 17 years old, and they eventually met when Cervantes drove from San Diego to Oklahoma to meet her in person. Cervantes visited her approximately four times over the following six months. The victim eventually broke up with Cervantes after he became abusive. They were separated for two months. About a week ago, they reconnected and started talking again, including using social media apps to exchange messages.

According to the complaint, Cervantes drove to Oklahoma on June 15 to talk to the minor victim in person to discuss their relationship. They planned for him to pick her up at her residence in Oklahoma. When the girl got in Cervantes’ vehicle, he told her she was coming with him back to San Diego. When she tried to leave the vehicle, Cervantes put a knife to her side and told her he would kill her if she tried to leave. 

Cervantes used duct tape to restrain the girl and transported her from Oklahoma to California. While traveling from Oklahoma to California, Cervantes assaulted the victim many times. The victim reported that Cervantes repeatedly forced her to consume vodka while en route to San Diego, keeping her in a constant state of heavy intoxication.

When they arrived in San Diego on June 19, Cervantes locked the victim in his bedroom for four days.  The victim saw her captor place the black knife with a silver blade in a desk drawer.

On June 22, Cervantes left the residence to go to the store.  Cervantes accidentally left his cell phone in the residence, which the victim used to call her father and law enforcement. Officers responded to Cervantes’ residence and rescued the victim and Cervantes was arrested.

The San Diego Police Department Domestic Violence detectives responded to the scene. FBI agents were called in to assist because Cervantes traveled to Oklahoma and kidnapped the victim, transporting her in interstate commerce from Oklahoma to California.  During the commission of the crime, Cervantes also used his cellular phone which is an instrumentality of interstate commerce.

“The allegations against this defendant highlight the digital and physical vulnerability of our nation’s children,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will do everything we can to prevent children from becoming victims, and to seek justice if they do. It is important that all of us remain vigilant regarding online activity. Not everyone is who they claim to be in cyberspace.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team, the San Diego Police Department, the FBI, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the Norman, Oklahoma Police Department for their efforts to save this victim and to bring her attacker to justice.

“The defendant is faced with allegations that he committed heinous crimes stemming from an online encounter,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “There is no higher priority than protecting children in both physical and virtual worlds. I want to thank the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California for their commitment, partnership, and swift action in rescuing the victim, taking the defendant into custody, and filing charges.”

“We are grateful that this case had a positive ending with the young victim back with her loved ones,” said Chief of Police David Nisleit. “This is a sad reminder to all of us to be careful who you trust online.”

For more information and resources for kids, teens and parents on internet crimes against children, pleas see https://www.sandiego.gov/sdicac.

DEFENDANTS                                             Case Number 22mj2288                                               

Ramsey Manuel Cervantes                             Age: 22                                   San Diego, CA

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Kidnapping – Title 18, U.S.C. § 1201(a) and (g)

Maximum penalty: Twenty years to life in prison

AGENCY

FBI

San Diego Police Department

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

Norman, Oklahoma Police Department

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
CAS22-0624-Cervantes
Updated June 24, 2022