SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Puerto Rican woman was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
According to the indictment that led to the arrest of Betsian Carrasquillo-Peñaloza, 35, of Loiza, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, 2012, she 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. HSI special agents arrested her on Oct. 3, 2012. She entered a guilty plea Oct. 11, 2013.
"Sex trafficking is a deplorable crime, especially when it involves underage victims who are particularly vulnerable," said Angel M. Melendez, 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."
The investigation is part of 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 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
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. 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.