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Child Exploitation

Las Piedras resident sentenced to 50 years in prison for production of child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 60-year-old man from Las Piedras was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday for production of child pornography. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, conducted the investigation that led to the man’s arrest and subsequent sentencing.

Andres Ruiz-Huertas was arrested at his place of residence Feb. 19 after HSI received a tip from the Puerto Rico Police Department that led to the execution of a search warrant. HSI seized several digital electronic storage devices during the search warrant. A preliminary analysis of the seized materials revealed explicit videos of Ruiz-Huertas engaging in sexual acts with multiple minors.

"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children. HSI will not tolerate such despicable crimes. Our agents will continue to police cyberspace and target those who exploit the most vulnerable segment of our society – our children."

According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 18, Ruiz-Huertas, told a female minor that he had engaged in sexual acts with two other minors. He proceeded to show the girl sexually explicit images from his smartphone. The criminal complaint further alleges that Ruiz-Huertas took the girl to his office, showed her sexually explicit images on his computer and purportedly sexually assaulted her.

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 in June 2011.

The task force enables local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to 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.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.