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Child Exploitation

Puerto Rican woman indicted for sex trafficking

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Puerto Rican woman was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on prostitution and sex trafficking charges. The indictment follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to the indictment, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, Betsian Carrasquillo-Peñaloza, 34, of Loiza, Puerto Rico, recruited, enticed, harbored and transported a 14-year-old female identified as N.M.C.C. to engage in commercial sex acts. Carrasquillo-Peñaloza allegedly knew that the female was a minor.

"Sex trafficking is a deplorable crime, especially when it involves underage victims who are particularly vulnerable," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Prostituting young girls is a growing threat in our area, and we encourage anyone with information about this activity to call law enforcement. Your call could save a girl from sexual slavery."

On Oct. 3, HSI, working jointly with Puerto Rico Police Department officers in the vicinity of Isla Grande in San Juan, arrested Carrasquillo-Peñaloza for transporting a minor with the intent to prostitute. A federal grand jury formally charged the woman with an additional charge of sex trafficking Oct. 10.

This investigation was 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-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

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.