SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As a result of two separate investigations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, a San Juan church pastor and a Cataño resident were arrested Friday on child pornography charges.
"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, a church pastor, 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. It is also alleged that he sent both female minors nude images of himself. He was arrested Friday and charged with production and attempted production of child pornography.
Also on Friday, in a separate case, HSI special agents arrested Marisol Rivera-Casillas, 36, of Cataño, after they received information from the Puerto Rico Police Department that Rivera-Casillas engaged in sexually explicit acts with an 11-year-old male minor and filmed them using her cell phone camera.
If convicted, De la Rosa-Meran and Rivera-Casillas each face between 15 and 30 years in prison.
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.
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 successful prosecutions. 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.
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.