SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — In what is considered to be an unprecedented increase in the number of child pornography cases in Puerto Rico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with officers assigned to the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF) arrested 10 individuals on child pornography charges in a period of nine weeks. The latest arrests took place Thursday in the municipalities of Ponce, Guaynabo, Barranquitas and Toa Alta.
Enrique Pagan, 63, of Ponce; Francisco Aguirre-Sanabria, 45, of Guaynabo; Eric Remigio-Nieves, 35, of Toa Alta; and Edwin Ramon Cabrera-Rivera, 25, of Barranquitas, were arrested at their places of residence Thursday on child pornography-related charges and will have their initial hearing before US Magistrate Judge Camille Velez-Rive.
"As we commemorate April as Child Abuse Awareness Month, we want to remind everyone that the possession, distribution and production of child pornography are heinous crimes that victimize children for decades to come – as images are cycled through the Internet again and again," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI will continue to aggressively use its investigative authorities, in conjunction with state law enforcement agencies, to identify individuals who seek to exploit children in this manner."
Felix Pagan-Crispin, 36, of Arroyo, was arrested on Monday for production of child pornography. Carlos Lopez-Roldan, 30, of Yabucoa, was arrested March 8 in Caguas after an HSI investigation revealed that he allegedly used a video recording device to produce nude images of a 12-year-old female. Andres Ruiz-Huertas, 60, of Humacao, was arrested Feb. 19 at his place of residence after a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department to HSI led to the execution of a search warrant during which several digital electronic storage devices containing child pornography were seized.
Nelson Santiago-Colon, 47, pastor of the Peniel Christian Church located in Santa Isabel, was arrested at his place of residence in Ponce Feb. 12 after a referral from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice to HSI revealed the violation of federal child exploitation statutes by Santiago-Colon. On Jan. 18, Puerto Rico Police Department officers arrested Santiago-Colon on charges of sexual activity with minors, lascivious acts and child abuse. Puerto Rico Department of Justice officials contacted HSI to charge Santiago-Colon under federal law. HSI special agents immediately began interviewing victims from the local case, which resulted in the arrest of Santiago-Colon on federal charges of transporting three minor males to his home where he allegedly sexually assaulted and committed lewd and lascivious acts on them. Santiago-Colon was charged with transportation of minors with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Edmundo Olivera, 68, was arrested at his place of residence in Reparto Metropolitano Feb. 6 for the possession of approximately 300 sexually explicit images of child pornography.
Jonathon White-Ayala, 24, was arrested at his place of residence in Vieques Jan. 28 after an HSI investigation revealed that he allegedly requested nude images of a 14-year-old girl and transported her to his residence with the intent that she engage in sexual activity.
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. The PRCACTF is composed of the following federal and state agencies:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
- U.S. Attorney's Office
- U.S. Marshals Service
- Puerto Rico Department of Justice
- Puerto Rico Department of Education
- Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO)
- Puerto Rico Department of the Family
- Puerto Rico Department of Treasury (Hacienda)
- Puerto Rico Police Department
- Puerto Rico Forensic Science Institute (ICF)
- San Juan Police Department
These investigations were 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 the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.