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Child Exploitation

HSI arrests former school bus driver on sexual exploitation charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — In the first case since 1945 in the District of Puerto Rico involving the transportation of an adult with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested a man in Orocovis Friday on sexual exploitation charges.

HSI special agents arrested Edwin Maldonado-Burgos, 57, of Orocovis, after an investigation that stemmed from a referral from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice revealed that he transported a then 18-year-old mentally-disabled female, identified in the criminal complaint as Jane Doe, in order to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

"Few cases are more heinous and despicable than one involving the sexual exploitation of a minor. In this case, though, we are faced with a case involving the sexual exploitation of a mentally-disabled adult woman, whose cognitive development is akin to that of a sixth grader," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Have no doubt, HSI will not tolerate this aberrant behavior against a very vulnerable sector of our society whether the victim is a minor or, as in this case, an adult with the mental capacity of a minor."

According to the criminal complaint, in or about October 2012, Maldonado-Burgos, a school bus driver, picked up Jane Doe at her Orocovis school and transported her to a deserted area in order to engage in criminal sexual conduct. Jane Doe, who is currently 19 years old, was a student in a specialized school for the mentally handicapped. The charging document further alleges that Jane Doe asked Maldonado-Burgos to stop the school bus so she could use the bathroom. When she walked back towards the bus, Maldonado-Burgos forcibly grabbed her and sexually assaulted her.

The criminal complaint also alleges that when Jane Doe asked Maldonado-Burgos what would happen if they had baby, he said that he would "kill himself." The investigation revealed that approximately one month after the incident, Jane Doe began to feel sick. As a result, her mother took her to the doctor thinking that she might be ill. When all tests came up negative, the doctor suggested doing a pregnancy test, which ultimately came up positive. After finding out that Jane Doe was pregnant, Maldonado-Burgos threatened to kill her and the baby if she did not have an abortion. A subsequent DNA test revealed, with an accuracy of 99.9 percent, that Maldonado-Burgos was in fact the father of Jane Doe's child.

Maldonado-Burgos had his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille Velez-Rive Frida. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo to await the outcome of his case.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshal Morgan.

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.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.