SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), District Court Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí sentenced Wednesday a 40-year-old man to 135 months in prison followed by a supervised release period of 20 years for coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Ruben Darío Báez-Aponte, of Mayagüez, was arrested by HSI special agents Oct. 26, 2018, and pleaded guilty April 23, 2019.
According to the plea agreement, during the months of May through August of 2018, Báez-Aponte used the Facebook Messenger application to communicate with a 12-year-old male to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce the minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Báez-Aponte requested sexually explicit photos from the male minor and sent him sexually explicit photos. The sexually explicit conduct occurred in at least four times at the defendant’s residence.
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 16,000 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 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 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.
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 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.