Carlos Manuel Santiago-Nieves, 47, was arrested at his place of residence after an HSI investigation, which stemmed from a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) referral, revealed that he allegedly transported a 14-year-old female minor to two local motels in San Lorenzo and Caguas, among other places, to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Santiago-Nieves had his initial hearing Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin, who scheduled his detention hearing for Aug. 9. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of his case.
"This arrest demonstrates that HSI is will not let its guard down when it comes to child exploitation cases," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "With so many child pornography/exploitation-related arrests, 30 thus far this year, one would think that those involved in these heinous crimes are getting the message that HSI will not cease its efforts until they are brought to justice. Have no doubt, if you are involved in these horrendous crimes, you will be identified and arrested. It's just a matter of time."
Santiago-Nieves faces a sentence of 10 years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elba Gorbea is prosecuting the case.
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 PRCACTF in June 2011.
Through PRCACTF, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state 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, PRCACTF 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 1-866-347-2423 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.