28 Year-Old Caguas Man Arrested For Sextortion And Attempted Sex Trafficking Of A 33 Year-Old Woman
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin authorized a criminal complaint charging Mario Lebrón-Càceres with one count of attempted sex tracking by means of force, threats of force, fraud and coercion, and one count of interstate extortion, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
The criminal complaint alleges that from on or about February 24, 2015, through on or about April 5, 2015, the defendant attempted to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain and maintain a person, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that means of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion, or any combination of such means would be used to cause the person to engage in a commercial sex act.
More specifically, on or about February 24, 2015, the 28 year-old defendant met a 33 year-old woman online through the Internet application known as “Meetme.com.” Shortly after meeting, the two switched to another Internet chat program known as “WhatsApp.” Within a matter of only a few days, Lebrón-Càceres began requesting sexually explicit images from the 33 year-old woman. After much persuasion, she finally relented to his request and sent several nude images to Lebrón-Càceres. Almost immediately thereafter, Lebrón-Càceres began to threaten to upload the images to a known pornographic website highlighting Puerto Rican women and to share the images with her co-workers if she did not agree to have sex with him. The adult victim filed a complaint with the local authorities, who in turn asked for assistance from the ICE-HSI Human Exploitation Group.
On April 2, 2015, with the assistance of Federal agents, the victim conducted several consensually monitored telephone calls with Lebrón-Càceres, during which the defendant suggested that they meet at a motel where they could have sex in exchange for which he would purportedly delete or return to the victim the sexually explicit images she had sent him.
“‘Sextortion’ is one of the most common threats facing our younger generation. This is the first case prosecuted by Federal authorities in Puerto Rico involving ‘sextortion’ between adults. Routinely, online predators use the computer to befriend unsuspecting victims and convince them to record themselves performing sexually explicit acts. Once the predator gets a hold of such images, he feels empowered to force the victim to do anything he wants. In this case, it was forcing the victim to have sex with him or else he was going to publish the sexually explicit images,” said United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
“This case is particularly important at it sends a clear message that HSI will investigate and apprehend those who prey on others for sexual gratification despite the age of the victim,” said Ángel M. Meléndez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshal D. Morgan is in charge of the prosecution of the case. The detention hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, April 9 at 1:30 pm. The defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum possible sentence of life in prison if he is found guilty. Criminal complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.