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Child Exploitation

HSI arrests Caguas resident on child sexual exploitation charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A Caguas resident was arrested Wednesday for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force officers.

HSI received a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department that Hector J. Cruz-Velazquez, 20, transported a 15-year-old female to his residence in Caguas to engage in illicit sexual conduct with the minor. HSI special agents subsequently arrested Cruz-Velazquez.

According to the criminal complaint, Cruz-Velazquez intimidated the minor by telling her that he had killed someone. He told her the stains in his vehicle were his friend’s blood when they committed that murder and the holes in his vehicle were the result of a shooting incident. He also stated that he participated in the shooting, that he owned a drug point at the Tomas de Castro public housing project and that he received payment to store firearms in his residence. The complaint further alleges that the minor was so scared and intimidated by what Cruz-Velazquez told her and by the tone of his voice that she agreed to the sexual act.

"This man mistakenly thought that through intimidation he was going to be able to get away with this despicable act," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Our joint law enforcement efforts have successfully arrested this man and now he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison where he can no longer prey on innocent children."

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.