Rigel Colon-Cruzado, 54, was arrested May 20 after an HSI investigation revealed the physical education teacher engaged in sexually explicit conversations with one of his students, a 12-year-old female.
"This case reveals the disturbing truth that some adults will go to great lengths to sexually exploit minors," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "During last fiscal year, HSI San Juan arrested 53 individuals on child exploitation charges which include possession, distribution and production of child pornography as well as the sexual enticement of minors. This represents a 92 percent increase in these cases compared to 2011 when the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, led by HSI, was created. This is simply alarming. HSI will continue working with our local, state and federal partners to identify and arrest those who exploit our children and ensure they are prosecuted for their heinous crimes."
Through the task force, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to effectively pool their resources to investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Law enforcement officers are encouraged to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, the task force allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.