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Child Exploitation
01/30/2012

Former U.S. Army Reserve soldier sentenced to 19 years in prison for production of child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. Army Reserve veteran was sentenced on Friday to 19 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release for production of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF).

Nicolas Gonzalez-Figueroa, 60, a former U.S. Army Reserve soldier, was arrested by HSI special agents on March 21, following a referral from Puerto Rico Police Department's (PRPD) Sexual Crimes Division regarding an investigation of lascivious acts against a seven-year-old minor.

According to the criminal complaint, the mother of the alleged victim reported to PRPD that Gonzalez-Figueroa had allegedly committed lascivious acts against her daughter. She made the accusation after she discovered child pornography images in an electronic data storage device she had borrowed from Gonzalez-Figueroa. An analysis of the device by HSI revealed 104 images of virtual child pornography portraying the sexual abuse of prepubescent minors.

Later that same day, HSI special agents executed a search warrant at Gonzalez-Figueroa's residence in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. They seized 48 items, including laptop and desktop computers, external hard drives, electronic media storage devices, cellular phones, DVDs and CDs, which revealed the presence of child pornography images and videos. Upon closer examination of the images found on some of the devices, it was discovered that Gonzalez-Figueroa had actually produced some of the images of child pornography.

Shortly thereafter, a federal grand jury indicted Gonzalez-Figueroa for, among other things, producing child pornography by coercing a female minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct, namely, the lascivious exhibition of the genital areas, for the purpose of producing still images using a digital camera and a cellular phone.

"HSI relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it is accomplished by exploiting their images. This is a significant sentence, and fitting punishment for this man's actions," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "We will continue working with our federal and local partners in the PRCACTF to identify, arrest and prosecute those who exploit the most vulnerable segment of our society – our children."

This case was investigated under Operation Predator, an HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers; and PRCACTF.

Attending to the need for an island-wide approach to fighting the escalation of predatory crimes against children, HSI San Juan partnered with members of local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as local and state government officials and community leaders, in June 2011 to form the PRCACTF.

Through the PRCACTF, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to effectively pool their resources to jointly investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Through the task force, law enforcement agents are encouraged to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, the PRCACTF allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.