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Child Exploitation
03/01/2012

HSI arrests PRPD's former athletic league officer for production of child porn

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 58-year-old police officer and former director of the Puerto Rico Police Department's (PRPD) athletic league, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents at his place of residence in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico on Wednesday for production of child pornography.

On Friday, Feb. 24, HSI agents received information that William Berríos-Cruz, a PRPD police officer with 33 years of service, who since 2009 held the position of youth officer of PRPD's "Liga Atlética Policíaca," had allegedly sexually assaulted a minor girl after having slipped something into her drink.

Based on that information, HSI special agents were able to obtain a search warrant for the home of Berríos-Cruz. During the late evening hours of Feb. 24 until the early morning hours of the following day, HSI special agents executed the search warrant on Berríos-Cruz's home in Barranquitas.

After conducting a forensic examination of the electronic media seized, HSI special agents were able to recover several previously deleted videos from Berríos-Cruz's cell phones that depicted at least one 16-year-old minor girl, otherwise known as Jane Doe #1, engaging in sexually explicit conduct with Berríos-Cruz.

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sylvia Carreño-Coll authorized a criminal complaint against Berríos-Cruz charging him with two counts of production of child pornography.

"Child predators targeting our most vulnerable members of society is a serious matter and even more disturbing when it involves a person in a position of trust," said Angel Meléndez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI is committed to apprehending individuals who sexually exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence. We will continue working with the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force to investigate such reprehensible actions."

The Superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police Department, Emilio Diaz Colon, said: "People can be sure that any member of the Police who commits a crime or acts against the regulations of the Puerto Rico Police Department will be processed, both administratively and criminally. We will not tolerate any act like this or any other conduct that stains the name of all who work with dignity and respect." The head of the Police added that the agency will continue to work closely with federal agencies seeking the welfare of our citizens, and to arrest and prosecute those who choose to pollute our streets and live outside the law.

Berríos-Cruz was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico awaiting the outcome of his case.

The investigation is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children; and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force. As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Attending 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, and form in June 2011 the PRCACTF.

Through the PRCACTF, 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 agents are encouraged to share evidence, ideas and share 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.

If convicted, Berríos-Cruz faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison per count.