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Child Exploitation

HSI arrests former Puerto Rico correctional officer on child exploitation charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, along with officers assigned to the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF) arrested a former Puerto Rico Department of Correction and Rehabilitation employee Wednesday for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in a sexual act.

Pablo Toro-Matos, 33, of Yauco, was arrested by HSI special agents after they learned from the Puerto Rico Police Department's Sexual Crimes Division that Toro-Matos allegedly used his vehicle to transport an 11-year-old girl to a motel where he sexually assaulted her.

"The arrest of this man for transporting a minor to a motel to engage in criminal sexual activity is clear proof of HSI's commitment to protect our children from child predators," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Those who exploit our children should take note that HSI will not rest until they are brought to justice and pay for these despicable and heinous crimes."

Toro-Matos had his initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Bruce McGiverin Thursday. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo to await 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 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. Through the task force, 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.

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.

Assistant United States Attorney Julia Meconiates is in charge of the prosecution of the case.