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Child Exploitation
07/13/2009

ICE arrests 3 Puerto Ricans for possession, production, and distribution of child porn

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A Utuado, Puerto Rico, couple, originally charged by local authorities for sexual assault against minors, and a Carolina, Puerto Rico, man, were arrested today for production and possession and distribution of child pornography, respectively, following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.

Joseph Acevedo-Maldonado, 46, and Jennise Lopez-Correa, 25, were arrested by local authorities for sexual assault against minors on Jan. 19, 2009. The couple was indicted at the federal level on July 9, 2009 after the forensic examination of the computer seized by ICE agents during a search warrant revealed videos involving minors engaging in a sexual act with Acevedo-Maldonado in the presence of Lopez-Correa in violation of Title 18, United States Code (USC) Section 2252.

In a separate incident, Rafael Soler-Prieto, 49, of Carolina was also arrested by ICE agents for possession and distribution of child pornography. Soler-Prieto was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 9, 2009, after a forensic analysis of the computers, memory card and portable drives seized during a search warrant of his residence on May 19, 2009, revealed material depicting child pornography and its distribution through an instant messaging (IM) service.

"The U.S. Department of Justice, through its Project Safe Childhood, will continue prosecuting online sexual predators of minors," said U. S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodriguez. "We appreciate the collaboration of local law enforcement in this investigation, and we look forward to future joint efforts in our fight to protect the children of Puerto Rico."

"These arrests are a stern reminder of the consequences awaiting those who use the internet to sexually exploit innocent children," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, acting special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace shields them from scrutiny, when in fact, their use of computers and the internet have given us new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect children from online predators."

Acevedo-Maldonado, Lopez-Correa and Soler-Prieto had their initial hearing before U.S magistrate judge Camille Velez Rive today.

If found guilty, Acevedo-Maldonado and Lopez-Correa face a minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison; however, if they are found guilty of the local charge, the federal statutory minimum is a maximum of 25 years. Soler-Prieto faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

Today's arrests were part of Operation Predator, a comprehensive ICE initiative aimed at those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable.

Both cases will be prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Jenifer Hernandez.

Additional information about Operation Predator is available on the Web at www.ice.gov. ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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.

An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.