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Child Exploitation

Former Puerto Rico police officer sentenced to 25 years for producing child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A former Puerto Rico Police Department officer was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release for production of child pornography. His sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force.

On Feb. 24, HSI special agents received information that William Berríos-Cruz, a police officer with 33 years of service, had allegedly sexually assaulted a minor girl after slipping something into her drink. Beginning in 2009, Berríos-Cruz served as the department's youth officer of the Liga Atlética Policíaca, a department-sponsored athletic league.

Based on that information, HSI special agents obtained a search warrant for the home of Berríos-Cruz. During the late evening hours of Feb. 24 until early morning Feb. 25, HSI special agents executed the search warrant at Berríos-Cruz's home in Barranquitas.

HSI special agents seized electronic media during the search warrant. After conducting a forensic examination of the media, they recovered several previously deleted videos from Berríos-Cruz's cell phones that depicted at least one 16-year-old minor girl, otherwise known as Jane Doe #1, engaged in sexually explicit conduct with Berríos-Cruz.

"Child predators targeting our most vulnerable members of society is a serious matter. It's even more disturbing when it involves a person in a position of trust," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI is committed to apprehending individuals who sexually exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence. We will continue working with the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force to investigate such reprehensible actions."

In response to the need for an island-wide approach to fight 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.

Through the task force, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to jointly investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Law enforcement officers are encouraged to share evidence, ideas and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, the task force allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.

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.