HSI special agents arrested Carlos Suarez at a local department store in the municipality of Carolina after a preliminary investigation revealed he produced and attempted to produce sexually explicit images of an 11-year-old girl by secretly recording the minor with his cellular telephone. According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 21, HSI received information from the Puerto Rico Police Department about a man, later identified as Carlos Suarez, who attempted to make sexually explicit recordings of a minor while she was shopping with her mother in a department store.
"Child predators targeting our most vulnerable members of society is a serious matter," 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."
Suarez had his initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos Lopez Monday. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of his case.
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 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. The task force allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.
The investigation is part of 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 the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of 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.
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.