Law and Order
SVU, Episode 3.12
Production number: E2327
First aired: 11 January 2002
  th of 502 produced in SVU  
th of 502 released in SVU
  th of 1271 released in all  
Stabler Protection.jpg
Written By
Robert F. Campbell & Jonathan Greene

Directed By
Alex Zakrzewski


When a six-year-old boy is injured in a shooting, the detectives are called in when his mother abandons him in the ER. During the course of the investigation, they find out that their mother had a history of giving false identification.


Maria Ramos and her 10-year-old son Luis carries her five-year-old younger son Miguel into a hospital after being shot. Though they take him to the operating room, the mother refuses to involve the police and pleads in vain with the guards not to get them involved. When her efforts fail, she gives them a fake name and takes off with her oldest son before they arrive. When Stabler & Benson arrive on the scene, they find the boy will recover from his wounds, but his X-Rays show he was a battered child. All detective members seem convinced the family lived near the hospital because they came in on foot. At PS 266, the principal recognized and identified the boy, then told them their mother habitually gives a fake address and phone number, and they attend a youth center after school. At the youth center, one of the counselors reveals that Luis is exceptionally protective of Miguel, and tells them where he assumed the family lived. Benson & Stabler investigate the scene of the crime and find bullet holes in the building. The CSU is called later on, and they find tire tracks and black paint scratched into the side of a parked silver Chevrolet Celebrity. Later they offer to find the identity of the car that hit the Chevy. Benson and Stabler visit her grandmother who informs them that her daughter was arrested after being caught up in a drug ring run by her boyfriend, and had difficulty trying to convince her to get away from him. She tells them that she worked in a local burger joint. Munch and Fin arrive at the restaurant where the boss tells them that two other alleged police officers were asking about her. He also tells them that somebody called her over and she acted like she didn't know the man and left and that even though she's a good employee, her recent absence may force him to fire her. Benson & Stabler visit the apartment, who turns out to be the residence of Fredo Garcia, who claims that Maria had a short fuse and was abusive towards her kids and threatened to call the police on her. On the way out they spot hidden cameras in the hall, which they believe indicates that it's the base of operations for a drug dealer.

Benson examines a car that was sideswiped during the hit on Miguel Ramos.

After looking at her record, they find she was arrested for possession of heroin with intent to sell, but the D.A. knocked the crime down to a year of probation. Stabler reveals Fredo's alibi, although he doesn't believe it. The hospital calls and reports that Miguel is awake, calling for his mother and brother, which leads them to believe they can question him. Unfortunately upon arriving at the hospital they find that he died there, but not from the shooting. One of the nurses reports that he was smothered him to death with a pillow. During questioning, she realizes that an unidentified maintenance mad may have been responsible. Arriving back at the precinct, Fin hands Stabler a sketch of the maintenance man. Munch tells them that there nobody at the hospital has fingerprints indicating a criminal record, and Fin tell them that the car they're looking for is a 1998 black Lexus sedan. When they find out Maria is getting ready to pick up her check from the restaurant, they try to track her down. The only trouble is, they find the woman picking up her check isn't Maria. She boards a bus momentarily and stops at a nearby park to hand the check to her son. The woman's name turns out to be Annie Colon, a family friend who was letting Maria sleep on her couch. They arrest Luis on trumped-up truancy charges so they can find his mother, but he refuses to reveal his mother's whereabouts. The police don't reveal the fate of Miguel to Luis. but they find that he has a receipt for some place named "Liberty" and try to find as many places as possible that have the name Liberty. Maria is found working in a store called "Liberty Knick-Knacks," and upon taking her into custody, they reveal that he died at the hospital. Maria panics when she learns that they talked to Fredo, because she realizes they made her an easier target. Cragen reminds his detectives that the type of domestic violence they were going through was all too familiar, but that in this case the violence the Ramos family is much too extreme for a typical domestic violence case, and has to involve a drug ring.

Munch decides to question Luis, convinced he can relate to him better than any of the other detectives. He tells the boy that he's envious of the fact that he's allowed to be on the streets alone protecting his younger brother, something he never got to do as a child. Nevertheless, he's still unwilling to budge, although he still reveals that he's afraid that Fredo will kill them. Fin talks to one of his informants, who seems just as scared of Fredo as Ms. Ramos is, because he knows he's a drug dealer who habitually snuffs out his competition, and that the Ramos family is on his hit list. Upon finding out how bad he truly is, they send Maria in to talk to her only surviving son. After learning of Miguel's death, Luis immediately blames Fredo for killing his brother, but his mother tries in vain to get the police not to listen to him. Eventually Benson talks to Maria and she reveals that he was an abusive boyfriend that she fell in love with, who used her as a mule, and forced her kids to carry drugs as well. She also admits that she and her family saw him beat one of his dealers to death, and tried to report it to the police, but faced similar consequences to what they are facing now. At the wake for Miguel, two other detectives from a narcotics unit in the Bronx barge in to take Maria into police custody for refusing to testify as a witness to the beating death of one of his dealers. Just then shots ring out from the doors of the church, and some of them chase the hitmen out the door. Two marked NYPD cars arrive on the scene and block the black Lexus the SVU was looking for, which has a scratch on the fender from the silver Chevy it hit during the attack on Miguel. Stabler finds a fake badge on one of the hitmen, and nearly strangles him to death when he refuses to tell him where he got it. Both the nurse and Maria identify Eddie Fuentes in a police lineup. The nurse accuses him of smothering Miguel, and Ramos accuses him of driving the car Fredo used to shoot his younger son from the back seat. Fuentes knows he has no chance of getting out of jail, and tries to make a deal. He also reveals that he followed the two Bronx detectives who arrived at the church before the attempted hit on Maria and Luis. The two detectives refused to believe they were followed, and Cragen takes over their case and demands that they join him on a future late-night raid.

When Maria finds out that the safe house she and her son were assigned was located in Rockland County, she refuses to take the deal, citing Luis' educational needs and her lack of a driver's license. She also feels that by going to the cops, she provoked Fredo into killing Miguel, and still refuses to testify. The detectives threaten to put her in prison, and her son in foster care, an action she's willing to let them do as long as he's safe. Thankfully, Eddie Fuentes squeals and reveals the layout to the cops, but they know that the surviving Ramos family members are still in danger and they have to stop them. Cabot reveals she can only get a warrant for the drug ring. Posing as a drug addict looking to score a fix, Fin approaches one of Fredo's dealers and tries to buy some dope from him. Upon their purchase, the SVU, CSU, and NYPD ESU team storm the apartment ready to arrest him, only to find shots being fired behind the door, but not by Fredo. In fact it's Maria who shoots Fredo in the knees, wounding him. She tells the cops she bought the gun on the street, and is convinced that killing Fredo was the only way to end his reign of terror, but the detectives talk her out of shooting him again, and take them both into custody. She tells them that Luis was staying with her mother.

Cabot wants to press charges against Ms. Ramos for the shooting, but the detectives talk her out of it, knowing she's their only hope of punishing Fredo, who could still kill her and her son. The episode ends with Benson, Stabler, and Cabot sending Maria and Luis on a Dallas-bound bus to an undisclosed safe house, now confident that this time Maria will stand up for herself and testify against her former boyfriend.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


  • 9/11
  • Miguel Ramos (victim)
  • Texas


Restaurant manager: Two other detectives were here yesterday asking about Maria. Don't you people communicate with each other?
John Munch: That would be much too efficient for a bureaucracy like ours. These detectives say where they were from?
Restaurant Manager: No, but they were undercover. Looked more like drug dealers than cops.
I just got off the phone with them. I asked about Fredo. Guy says they've never even heard of him. Then he starts questioning me like he doesn't think I'm a cop. The only thing he didn't ask me was whether I wear boxers of briefs.

–John Munch having called the Drug Task Force about Fredo Garcia

Let me take a run at him. I speak ten-year-old.

–John Munch about Luis Ramos

Alexandra Cabot: Murder one, life without parole.
Eddie Fuentes: What kind of a deal is that?!
Alexandra Cabot: The kind that keeps you breathing. You give us Fredo, we take the death penalty off the table.
He murdered her child. She'll be back.


Background information and notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4 5

PS 266
252 East 13th Street
Tuesday, December 18

452 East 2nd Street
Tuesday, December 18

790 Grant Avenue
The Bronx, New York
Tuesday, December 18

Liberty Knick Knacks
22 Fulton Street
Wednesday, December 19

Delancey Hotel
Flushing, New York
Thursday, December 20

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