ICE Arrests Puerto Rican Men on Child Exploitation (Learn More, Videos)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested two men June 2 on child exploitation charges. The arrests took place in Bayamon and San Juan.

Following a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department’s (PRPD) Cyber Crimes Division and an HSI investigation, a federal grand jury indicted Geovanni Velázquez-Méndez, 36, for production of child pornography, sexual enticement of a minor and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

(Make it hard for predators to hide; download the Operation Predator app today from iTunes or Google Play. Courtesy of ICE and YouTube)

HSI special agents arrested the defendant in Condado, San Juan, without incident.

On a separate and unrelated case, HSI special agents arrested Josué Rafael Peraza-Rivera, 32, of Bayamon, for transportation of child pornography material.

According to the criminal complaint that led to his arrest, Peraza-Rivera allegedly used the instant messaging application WhatsApp to communicate with a female adult, identified as “AF,” and mother of a 3-year-old minor.

The charging document alleges that he asked “AF” if she thought about engaging in explicit sexual conduct with her daughter or if she would enjoy seeing the minor engaging in explicit sexual conduct with him.

Ricardo Mayoral, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan

The defendant, during the WhatsApp communication with “AF,” sent two sexually explicit images of himself. He also made sexually explicit statements.

HSI special agents arrested Peraza-Rivera near Rio Hondo, Bayamon, on June 2 without incident.

Both defendants had their detention hearings June 7 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin and were ordered to remain detained until jury trial.

“The allegations against these two men are very serious,” said Ricardo Mayoral, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan.

“Child exploitation, in all its forms, is despicable and a heinous crime that HSI will not tolerate. These men made a big mistake by trying to engage minors into criminal sexual activity and will now have to live with the consequences.”

“Child predators seek out online forums on anonymous networks so that they can commit vile crimes without getting caught,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

“While identifying and apprehending these criminals is difficult, it is not impossible, and we will use every legal authority we have to root out these predators and protect children from harm. The children of Puerto Rico deserve no less.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elba Gorbea is prosecuting the cases.

HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app
HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app

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 12,000 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 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 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.

(Learn More, courtesy of the Virtual Global Taskforce and YouTube)

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.

Operation Predator smartphone app

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.