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Child Exploitation
05/13/2013

HSI arrests school teacher for attempting to sexually entice a minor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – An elementary school teacher in Luquillo was arrested Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and officers assigned to the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF).

Orlando Peña-Lopez, 53, of Fajardo, was arrested following an HSI investigation that revealed he has been engaging in attempted sexual enticement of one of his sixth grade students.

The HSI investigation started with a referral from the victim’s mother after she read some of the Facebook chats between her daughter and the teacher. As part of the investigation, special agents assigned to the HSI San Juan cybercrimes unit went undercover to pose as the girl during Facebook chats with Peña-Lopez. Those undercover chats resulted in sexually suggestive conversations.

During one of the conversations, Peña-Lopez told the minor that he would lend his tablet or mobile phone so that she could take pictures of herself for him. He was arrested by HSI special agents while trying to deliver the tablet to the victim at her grandmother’s house.

Peña-Lopez was brought before U.S. Magistrate Bruce McGiverin for his initial appearance Friday and was ordered temporarily detained in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of his case.

"During a period of only four months, HSI San Juan has arrested 16 individuals on child pornography-related charges – this is simply alarming," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI cannot do this alone, we need the involvement of every parent, and we need them to take full responsibility for the cyber habits of their children. This teacher was caught committing this heinous crime because a responsible parent took the time to supervise her child’s chat sessions, discovered inappropriate behavior and reported it. To those involved in online child exploitation, we can only tell you this – it is not a matter of whether or not HSI will be able to identify and arrest you; it’s a matter of when."

If convicted, Peña-Lopez could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Meconiate.

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.