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Child Exploitation

HSI arrests 2 individuals on child exploitation charges

The Rincon and Ponce residents face sentences of up to 15 years in prison

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF) officers, arrested Friday two men from Rincon and Ponce, respectively, on child exploitation charges.

Ronald Joseph Gall, 54, of Rincon, was arrested at his place of residence after an HSI investigation, which stemmed from a referral by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), revealed that he had several images depicting child pornography in his cellular telephone and portable computer. He was charged with possession of child pornography.

On a separate incident, HSI special agents arrested Alex Caquias-Flores, 38, of Ponce, for possession and production of child pornography. According to the two-count indictment, Caquias-Flores persuaded, induced and enticed a 13-year old female minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct.

Both men had their initial hearings before a magistrate judge and were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of their cases.

"The possession, distribution and production of child pornography are perhaps among the most heinous crimes and their investigation is one of HSI's top priorities," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations San Juan. "These men mistakenly thought that they were going to be able to get away with these despicable acts but they were wrong and are now facing up to 15 years in prison for the alleged crimes."

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana Bauza.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide 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.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2823 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, 1-800-843-5678.

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.