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Child Exploitation

HSI arrests 2 Puerto Rican men on child pornography charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two men from Cabo Rojo and Lares, Puerto Rico, were arrested at their places of residence on child pornography charges during separate law enforcement actions Tuesday, following investigations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The investigation that led to the indictment and subsequent arrest of Confesor Lopez-Vazquez, 51, of Cabo Rojo, and Anthony Aleman-Pagan, 18, of Lares, stemmed from referrals by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

According to the indictment that charges Lopez-Vazquez with transportation and possession of child pornography, he knowingly uploaded, on two separate occasions, several images depicting child pornography to a "wall" on Facebook.

In a separate indictment, Aleman-Pagan was charged with transportation, receipt and possession of child pornography. According to the charging document, he knowingly sent an email containing two compressed files entitled girls.zip and boys.zip, which when extracted revealed images depicting child pornography, from his personal account to more than 50 addressees. The indictment also alleges that, on several occasions, he received files containing child pornography.

"HSI will continue to aggressively use its investigative authorities, in conjunction with state law enforcement agencies, to identify individuals who seek to exploit children in this manner," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace and new technologies shield them; in fact, the use of computers and the Internet have given HSI new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect children."

If convicted, both men face a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison.

In response 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, to form the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force in June 2011.

Through the task force, federal, local and state law enforcement agencies work together with state and local government agencies to effectively pool their resources to jointly investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Through the task force, 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 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-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.