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Child Exploitation
06/18/2012

HSI arrests Puerto Rican man for production of child porn

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 61-year-old Carolina, Puerto Rico, man had his initial appearance in federal court Friday, following his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for production of child pornography.

Roberto Cruz-Melendez was arrested by HSI special agents after a forensic analysis of his cellular telephone, seized during a June 15 search warrant at his residence, revealed images depicting child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, on or about June 10, Cruz-Melendez induced an 8-year-old girl to engage in sexually explicit conduct, namely the lascivious exhibition of the genital areas and performance of sexual acts, for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, recording it with a cellular phone with integrated camera.

"Child exploitation is probably one of the most heinous crimes that HSI investigates," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI will continue its work with its law enforcement partners – using every tool at our disposal – to keep our children safe."

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. The task force encourages law enforcement officers to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. It allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.

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

This investigation was also 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.

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.