When California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) Member and California State Parks Ranger Dan Perata checked on a broken down vehicle January 10, 2014, it was standard operating procedure. What happened next, makes him a hero in the eyes of many parents.
"There's no question in my mind, Ranger Perata's attentiveness and actions saved this child from harm," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "After inspecting one vehicle parked under the interstate, he moved on to a second one and discovered a man and a child sleeping inside. He didn't know it immediately, but the child was a victim in a parental abduction."
Ranger Perata discovered the vehicle and its occupants on Quail Canyon Road under Interstate 5 south of the Gorman area. Instead of disturbing the sleeping man and child, Ranger Perata ran the vehicle's license plate. Information attached to the license plate revealed the vehicle was involved in the parental abduction of a child. Ranger Perata called for back-up and subsequently arrested the man. He then discovered the suspect in possession of 10 grams of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and counterfeit $50 and $100 bills. In addition to kidnapping charges, the suspect was arrested on drug and counterfeit money charges and resisting a peace officer. The child appeared to be in good health.
The suspect was identified as a "sovereign citizen," someone who believes that federal, state and local governments operate illegally. The FBI identifies sovereign citizens as a growing domestic threat to law enforcement. Some of the actions of sovereign citizens include making false license plates, driver's licenses and counterfeit currency. The more extreme "sovereign citizens" become involved in more severe crimes and violent behavior, impersonating and or threatening law enforcement officers. It is a movement fueled by the internet and seminars that spread this ideology.
"This arrest demonstrates how quickly an ordinary call or investigation can turn into something more dangerous," said Barcelona. "I'm am relieved that it ended as peacefully as it did, none of the rangers was hurt and the child is safe from harm. Ranger Dan Perata did an exceptional job."