FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man in his early 20s who allegedly drugged and raped an underage girl in Fresno.
According to the sheriff’s office, 22-year-old Moises Vaca was found by officers Tuesday morning at about 4:00 a.m. inside his car, which was parked in the middle of Belmont Ave., allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Deputies also believe Vaca drugged the victim.
Officers with the California Highway Patrol initially responded after a person driving by Vaca’s car noticed that he had parked right in the middle of Belmont, between Hayes and Cornelia, in west Fresno. Officers add that Vaca had his 18-month-old son in the back seat.
Vaca currently faces felony charges of statutory rape and child endangerment. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says CHP officers initially responded to the scene, but then called in the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Sex Crimes Unit.
The sheriff’s office says this remote area of Belmont Ave. can be a dangerous stretch of roadway.
“There was just a bunch of stuff going wrong here, I mean you’ve got a man basically raping an underage girl,” said Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. “He’s got his son in the back seat, they’re in a blacked-out car in the middle of a busy road, this could have ended in tragedy if somebody had crashed into all of them.”
Botti says the 14-year-old girl was taken to the hospital for treatment, and Vaca’s son is now in the care of Child Protective Services. Detectives say initial evidence on where the young girl lives indicate a possible human trafficking case.
“Knowing that the victim, in this case, belonged to a group home in Fresno, that’s a lot of time where these victims come from,” Botti said.
Debra Rush, The co-founder of a Fresno-based organization to help the victims of human and sex trafficking, Breaking The Chains, says children in group-home settings are a vulnerable population.
“These are children who are disengaged from their families, they’re in the foster care system,” said Debra Rush. “And so they are more vulnerable to traffickers.”
Rush adds that the COVID-19 pandemic made the issue of sex trafficking involving minors worse because more young people have spent time online in the last 18 months.
“Unfortunately we know traffickers took advantage of that vulnerability,” she said. “So we’re seeing a lot more calls for services and cases like we saw (Tuesday).”
Vaca’s bail is set at $30,000.
If you or someone you know feels you’re a victim of human trafficking or are looking for resources, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline on (888) 373-7888. Breaking The Chains in Fresno is also ready to provide resources to anyone in need in the Central Valley.