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Child Exploitation

HSI arrests Cidra resident for production of child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Cidra resident was arrested for production of child pornography Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force officers.

Pedro Luis Baez-Torres, 25, was arrested at his place of work in Cayey after an HSI investigation, which stemmed from a Puerto Rico Police Department referral, revealed he allegedly requested sexually explicit images from a 14-year-old female minor.

According to the criminal complaint, Baez-Torres obtained the victim's Kik nickname through one of her classmates. Kik is a smartphone application that allows users to communicate by video and instant message over the Internet. During the initial conversations between Baez-Torres and the victim, Baez-Torres asked her to send him pictures of her fully clothed, but the requests turned more demanding when he began to request more sexually explicit photos. The complaint further alleges that the victim complied with Baez-Torres's requests and sometime between May and July she sent Baez-Torres more than 30 images of herself completely nude in various sexually explicit poses.

On Aug. 26, HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at Baez-Torres residence in Cidra and seized his cellular phone. A preliminary forensic examination of the cellular phone revealed the presence of approximately 122 images depicting the victim in a sexually explicit manner.

"Production of child pornography is a serious crime and a form of child exploitation that HSI will not tolerate," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Producing a sexually explicit image of a minor shall end you in prison whether the transmission of such sexually explicit material is voluntary or not."

Baez-Torres faces a minimum of 15 years in prison if found guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elba Gorbea.

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.