Two Individuals Arrested For Child Pornography
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Today, physical education teacher Rigel Colón-Cruzado was arrested for Coercion and Enticement of a minor following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF), announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit authorized on May 17, 2013 by US Magistrate Judge Marcos López, on April 29, 2013, agents received information regarding an adult male physical education teacher at a middle school that was engaging in sexually explicit conversations with a 12 year-old female minor. During the course of the investigation, agents learned that the minor victim was Colón-Cruzado’s 7th grade student.
In a separate investigation, Bayamón Correction Officer Ángel Marrero-Hernàndez was arrested on Friday, May 17 for coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity. The investigation revealed that Marrero-Hernàndez used a Samsung Galaxy Note cellular phone to access applications, including “kik” and Facebook, to conduct sexually explicit conversations with a 15-year old female. During these conversations Marrero-Hernàndez sent nude images of himself and requested nude images of the minor victim in return.
“We want to let the public know that these defendants will face serious consequences for their actions. Our office will continue to vigorously prosecute this type of criminal activity to the fullest extent of the law. We want the community to know that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice, along with our federal, state and local partners, are committed to protecting children from these sexual predators,” said United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
“These cases reveal the disturbing truth that some adults will go to great lengths to sexually exploit minors,” said Ángel Meléndez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “In less than five months HSI San Juan has arrested 18 individuals on child exploitation charges which include possession, distribution and production of child pornography as well as the sexual enticement of minors—this is simply alarming. HSI will continue working with our local, state and federal partners to identify and arrest those who exploit our children and ensure they are prosecuted for their heinous crimes.”
Both defendants were brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sylvia Carreño-Coll for their initial appearance, whereupon they were ordered temporarily detained in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of their cases. If convicted, they face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years incarceration and a possible maximum statutory sentence of life incarceration. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia Meconiates and Luke Cass.
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.
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.