SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with officers assigned to the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF), arrested a man and woman Monday for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
Juan H. Matos-Gonzalez, 36, and Vanessa Rios-Negron, 30, were arrested in Ponce and Orlando, Fla., respectively. A joint HSI and Puerto Rico Police Department investigation revealed they allegedly transported a 14-year-old female minor, identified as Jane Doe, to a hotel in Ponce, among other places, with the intent for her to engage in criminal sexual activity.
According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 28, 2012, Rios-Negron told Jane Doe that Matos-Gonzalez would pay them $200 each to watch them engage in sexually explicit conduct together. That same day, Jane Doe relented after substantial coaxing by Rios-Negron, and Matos-Gonzalez drove them to a local hotel in Ponce to engage in criminal sexual conduct. He subsequently paid Rios-Negron and Jane Doe $400, which they split.
"Transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexually explicit conduct is a serious crime that HSI will continue to investigate. Those involved in these despicable crimes should note that we will not rest until we bring you to justice," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Child predators will be identified, arrested and prosecuted."
Matos-Gonzalez and Rios-Negron face a sentence of 15 years in prison.
In response to the need for an island-wide approach to fight 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 PRCACTF in June 2011.
Through PRCACTF, 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, PRCACTF allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.
The 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.