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Child Exploitation
02/28/2014

HSI arrests Puerto Rico man for production of child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 21-year-old Puerto Rico man was arrested at his home Wednesday for production of child pornography. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents made the arrest after receiving a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department.

According to the criminal complaint, William Vergara-Alamo began text messaging with a 14-year-old girl, identified as Jane Doe, after she mistakenly called his cellphone. Within two weeks of communicating with her, Vergara-Alamo asked Jane Doe to send him photographs of herself. The charging document alleges that on one occasion, Vergara-Alamo instructed Jane Doe to take a sexually explicit photograph and then send it to him.

The criminal complaint additionally alleges when Jane Doe told Vergara-Alamo she was not going to text him anymore, he told her she could not stop talking to him, and she could not talk to anyone else. Vergara-Alamo also allegedly threatened Jane Doe saying he would send the sexually explicit photographs to her mother. The criminal complaint further alleges Vergara-Alamo opened a fake Facebook account, posted 14 of the sexually explicit images of Jane Doe and then sent inbox messages from the fake account to Jane Doe and some of her father’s friends.

On Feb. 24, HSI special agents identified Vergara-Alamo’s residence. Two days later, they executed a federal search warrant resulting in the seizure of Vergara-Alamos’s cellular phone. A preliminary forensic analysis of the telephone yielded the presence of several images depicting female minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

"Have no doubt, HSI will go after those who commit crimes against our children no matter where, or behind what, they try to hide," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI will continue to be committed to identifying and apprehending individuals who sexually exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence. It may take a while, but you will be arrested and brought to justice."

Vergara-Alamo had his initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Silvia Carreño-Coll Thursday. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo to await the outcome of his case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ginette Milanes is prosecuting this case.

In June 2011, in response to the need for an island-wide approach to fighting the escalation of predatory crimes against children, HSI San Juan formed the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Through the task force, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Law enforcement officers are able to share ideas, leads and evidence, as well as investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, the task force allows law enforcement to speak with a unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.

The investigation is part of HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.