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Child Exploitation
10/21/2008

ICE nabs two men for possession and production of child porn

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Two men from Morovis and Fajardo, Puerto Rico were arrested this morning for possession and distribution of child pornography following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.

Wilson Padilla-Melendez, 39, of Morovis, Puerto Rico, was arrested without incident at his place of work in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, after a forensic analysis of a computer previously seized by ICE, revealed images depicting child pornography.

According to the indictment, Padilla-Melendez possessed in his computer images, both still images and movie files, of actual minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct such as visual depictions of lascivious exhibition of the pubic areas of minors and simulated and actual sexual intercourse between minors and between minors and adults.

In a separate case, ICE agents arrested Ross Perez Cruz, 45, of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, for possession and production child pornography.

Perez-Cruz was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 15, 2008 after an ICE investigation that stemmed from a referral by the Puerto Rico Police Department revealed sexually explicit images of minors in his digital camera.

According to the indictment, Perez-Cruz allegedly persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced a 6-year-old female to engage in sexually explicit conduct such as exhibition of the genital and pubic areas for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct.

"ICE will continue to aggressively use its investigative authorities, in conjunction with State law enforcement agencies, to identify individuals who seek to exploit children in this manner," said Manuel Oyola Torres, special agent in charge for ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace and new technologies shield them; in fact, the use of computers and the Internet have given ICE new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect children."

The arrest of Wilson Padilla Melendez and Ross Perez Cruz was part of a nationwide initiative known as Operation Predator. Operation Predator protects our children from sexual predators, including those who travel across continents to have sex with minors. Internet child pornographers and criminal alien sex offenders and child traffickers are also a priority for ICE. Since the initiative was launched in July of 2003, there have been more than 11,500 individuals arrested nationwide.

ICE encourages anyone who wants to report suspicious activity of suspected child predators and suspicious activity through our toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. Investigators staff this hotline around the clock.

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 www.cybertipline.com.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Hernandez.