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Child Exploitation

Puerto Rican school bus driver sentenced to 17 years in prison for production of child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A local school bus driver was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 17 years in federal prison and 10 years of supervised release for production of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Ricardo Del Valle-Diaz, 33, of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was a school bus driver for special education students.

"This sentence shows once more that HSI will simply not tolerate the victimization of our children," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Have no doubt, HSI will be knocking at the doors of those who exploit our children, and will arrest them and prosecute them."

On June 10, an HSI special agent received a complaint from the Puerto Rico Police Department's Sexual Crimes Division in Caguas stating that Valle-Diaz had a video and audio recording of a special education student engaged in sexually explicit conduct while on the school bus.

Valle-Diaz was originally charged in a criminal complaint for inducing a girl to engage in sexually explicit conduct, specifically lascivious exhibition of the genital areas and the performance of sexual acts. Valle-Diaz promoted this behavior so he could produce a video using the camera on his computer.

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 the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF) in June 2011.

Through PRCACTF, federal, local and state law enforcement agencies work together with state and local 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 also part of Operation Predator, an HSI-led 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. Individuals with information about suspected child predators are encouraged to call 1 866 DHS 2ICE or complete an online tip form. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.