ICE arrests Caguas resident for sexually enticing a minor, attempted production of child pornography
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Police Department’s (PRPD) Cyber Crimes Division and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF), arrested a man Tuesday for enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct and attempted production of child pornography.
HSI special agents arrested Francisco Alvarado-Cruz, 31, of Caguas, following a referral from PRPD’s Cyber Crimes Division regarding an investigation the division initiated to identify persons involved in the online victimization of children.
According to the criminal complaint, Alvarado-Cruz offered, to whom he thought to be a 14-year-old minor, money to film a pornographic movie. The minor was in fact a PRPD officer acting in an undercover capacity.
The charging document alleges that on or about April 27, the conversations between the PRPD agent, posing as a 14-year-old female, and Alvarado-Cruz began in a chat room for minors on the Internet. They also conversed via Kik and text messaging. Eventually, Alvarado-Cruz offered the undercover PRPD officer $5,000 to $8,000 to participate in an adult movie.
On April 30, an HSI special agent, acting in an undercover capacity, assumed the identity of the 14-year-old created by PRPD and continued the conversations with Alvarado-Cruz. The criminal complaint alleges that during one of these conversations he asked the minor if she was willing to have sex. He also requested sexually explicit photos.
On May 4, Alvarado-Cruz arranged to meet with his intended victim at a local fast food restaurant in Caguas. Instead, he was met by HSI special agents who arrested him without incident.
Alvarado-Cruz had his initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Bruce J. McGiverin Tuesday. He was transferred to the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center until his detention hearing set for Friday.
In response to the need for an island-wide approach in the fight against 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 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 conducted under 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 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
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. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. 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.