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Child Exploitation

Former San Juan church pastor sentenced to 10 years for sexual enticement

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A former San Juan church pastor was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in federal prison followed by 15 years of supervised release for sexually enticing a minor. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, conducted the investigation that led to the arrest, guilty plea and subsequent sentencing of the former pastor.

"Predators who victimize innocent children for selfish gratification must know that we will not rest until they are brought to justice," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Words cannot describe the harm that these crimes inflict on children. HSI will continue using its unique immigration authorities to identify and arrest those who present a threat to our community. Those criminals in Puerto Rico involved in these despicable crimes should be on notice because we will find you and bring you to justice."

According to the criminal complaint, Leo De la Rosa-Meran, 45, engaged in sexually explicit telephone conversations with two 17-year-old female minors, both of whom he met through his church. According to the investigation, De la Rosa-Meran requested nude images from both minors. He also allegedly sent both female minors nude images of himself. He was arrested May 31 and charged with production and attempted production of child pornography. He pleaded guilty to the enticement charge in August.

Through the task force, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to effectively pool their resources 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 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 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.

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.