HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) — Police say a Hendersonville man used a social media app to communicate with a child he’s accused of exploiting and it was during that investigation they found evidence of a marijuana manufacturing operation.
The Hendersonville Police Department and the N.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force charged 28-year-old Gabriel Zagazeta with three counts each of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Police say the victim is 11 years old.
The investigation was initiated at the request of an affiliate member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in Minnesota.
Detectives with the police department worked alongside investigators with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security to identify the suspect.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, Hendersonville police and partnering agencies, executed a search warrant at 211 N. Oak Street in Hendersonville as part of the investigation.
Officers say they found evidence of the minor’s exploitation and a marijuana manufacturing operation.
On Monday, Zagazeta was charged with three counts of third-degree exploitation of a minor; manufacturing a schedule VI narcotic; possession with the intent of sale and delivery of a schedule VI narcotic; maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of use or sale of a controlled substance; and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Zagezeta was being held at the Henderson County Detention Center under a $48,000 secured bond.
Police say the investigation is ongoing and Zagazeta could face more charges.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to please contact the Hendersonville Police Department at 828-697-3025 or Henderson County Crime Stoppers at 828-697-STOP.