A man wanted in the 1999 sexual assault of an Atlantic County child was found living under a fake name as an auto parts worker in Philadelphia.
Israel Ramos had run for nearly two decades.
As Juan Vasquez-Perez, he had a Social Security card, a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license and a job at the Advanced Auto Parts.
But when law enforcement finally caught up to him last month and he was asked his name, he replied, “Israel Ramos.”
“I was surprised that he did say his real name,” said Detective Anthony Branca, a member of the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Squad since 2011.
Branca had been tracking Ramos since 2013, following any lead he could.
Ramos is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual assault in Atlantic County, according to the 19-year-old charges.
He also was wanted in Cumberland County for unlawful possession of a weapon/handgun and aggravated assault with a firearm/threats of violence.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders to bring someone like this into custody,” Branca told BreakingAC. “It’s a great feeling to know someone like this is off the streets.”
There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that Ramos, now 51, committed any new crimes since he went missing, Branca said.
Ramos was first wanted in a 1999 sexual assault on a preteen girl. In Cumberland County, he allegedly threatened his girlfriend with a gun after she threatened to go to police following a domestic violence incident in 2000, according to the charges.
Branca “diligently led the investigation,” Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler said. “His methodical tactics and relentless persistence led to the arrest of this high-profile violent criminal.”
Interviews began with Ramos’ brother and mother who insisted they hadn’t seen him. But stories started to change, Branca said.
Searches were made using social media.
“It was one of those cases that information would pop up, we would look at it,” Branca said. “If there was anyone to interview, we would interview them.”
Then, last year there was an anonymous tip that sent Branca back to social media.
They found a Ramos family friend who was living with Vasquez-Perez. Looking into that name led to an overlap with Ramos. Pictures of Vasquez-Perez were sent to the State Police who used facial recognition to find him a 90 percent match, Branca said.
On April 5 of this year, Branca along with other law enforcement including New Jersey State Police saw Vasquez-Perez leave the residence.
He got into a car, which officers tried to stop. The attempt to flee was brief, Branca said.
When they pulled Ramos out of the car, he gave his real name.
“I think he knew it was the end of the road for him,” Branca said.
Ramos is now in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
“That’s why we do this job. Getting people like this,” Branca said. “Especially with young children. I have kids myself and to think someone would do something like this. It’s horrifying.”
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