SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A 21-year-old man from Carolina, Puerto Rico was arrested earlier this week at his place of residence for possession and transportation of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The arrest of Armando Suazo-Vazquez stemmed from a referral by the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office in Florida stating that Suazo-Vazquez was using an Internet service provider to share child pornography through peer-to-peer networks.
"The arrest of this man should send a clear message that HSI special agents in Puerto Rico and our law enforcement partners are committed to identify, apprehend and prosecute those who exploit our children" said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI will continue working with our local, state and federal partners in an effort to protect our children from online predators."
According to the criminal complaint, on or about June 17, Suazo-Vazquez knowingly transported child pornography in a computer that he brought to Puerto Rico from Florida.
HSI special agents in Puerto Rico executed a search warrant at Suzo-Vazquez's residence in Carolina and seized a computer containing visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
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 (PRCACTF) in June 2011.
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-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suazo-Vazquez faces a possible mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, and a possible statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison per count.