FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A 35-year-old assistant swim coach at the Pine Crest school here was arrested yesterday and charged with possessing child pornography following a joint law enforcement investigation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Roberto M. Caragol, of Plantation, Fla., made his initial appearance today in Miami before United States Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres on the child pornography possession charges.
According to the criminal complaint filed with the United States District Court, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), a group of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies aimed at combating child exploitation, received a Cybertip from America Online that Caragol was distributing child pornography on the Internet. Thereafter, deputies from the Broward Sheriff's Office and ICE agents interviewed Caragol and recovered a computer from his residence. A subsequent forensic examination of the computer revealed approximately 40 thumbnail images of young boys under the age of 18, engaged in sexual activity.
According to the complaint filed in court today, Caragol admitted to possessing child pornography and engaging in sexual activity with children under the age of 18 dating back to 2001.
"ICE will continue to use all law enforcement tools including advanced computer forensics to investigate these types of crimes," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. ICE will not tolerate the sexual exploitation of children and will identify and arrest child predators that are a threat to our communities."
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida R. Alexander Acosta stated, "Child predators come from all walks of life and all professions. I encourage parents to engage in frank discussions with their children about this fact, and as always, to report any possible or suspected illegal conduct."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Solomon stated, "Crimes against children are heinous. Law enforcement agencies have banded together to ensure that we are doing all that is possible to keep our kids safe from harm and that those individuals who do commit these crimes are taken off the street."
"We are gratified that BSO was able to help investigate this sordid situation," Sheriff Al Lamberti said. "Our detectives have worked effectively with federal authorities on this, and we will now determine whether there has been any violation of state law involving children in Broward County."
The arrest of Caragol was part of Operation Predator, a comprehensive ICE initiative aimed at those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Since the initiative was launched in July of 2003, there have been more than 11,500 individuals arrested nationwide.
Additional information about Operation Predator is available on the Web at www.ice.gov. ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
U.S. Attorney Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brent Tantillo.
If you have more information on the criminal activity described in this press release or concerns please contact the Broward County Sheriff's Office Sex Crimes Division at (954) 321-4240.