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San Diego Man Sentenced for Child Sex Trafficking

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, along with officers assigned to the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF), arrested a Ponce, Puerto Rico resident Tuesday, February 12, 2013, for allegedly transporting minors with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

Nelson Santiago-Colon, 47, pastor of the Peniel Christian Church located in Santa Isabel, was arrested at his place of residence in Ponce after a referral from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice to HSI revealed the violation of federal child exploitation statutes by Santiago-Colon.

“Anyone who targets children for sexual exploitation should also consider themselves a target by HSI and by our law enforcement partners,” said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI aggressively uses its investigative authorities to protect our communities from those who seek to sexually exploit children for their perverse gratification. We have an obligation to protect those most vulnerable in our society who cannot protect themselves.”

On Jan. 18, Puerto Rico Police Department officers arrested Santiago-Colon on charges of sexual aggression of minors, lascivious acts and child abuse. He was granted bail in the amount of $110,000 by Puerto Rico Superior Court Judge Sheila Diaz. Shortly after he posted bail, Puerto Rico Department of Justice officials contacted HSI to charge Santiago-Colon under federal law. HSI special agents immediately began interviewing victims from the local case, which resulted in the arrest of Santiago-Colon on federal charges of transporting three minor males to his home where he allegedly sexually assaulted and committed lewd and lascivious acts on them.

According to the three-count complaint, Santiago-Colon is charged with transportation of minors with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. In counts one and two, Santiago-Colon is charged with having transported a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy from the Peniel Christian Church to his home for the purpose of committing sexual assault and lewd acts with the minors. Count three charges him with transporting a 14-year-old minor from the minor’s home to his home with the intent to perform lewd acts on the minor.

Santiago-Colon was transferred to the MetropolitanDetentionCenter in Guaynabo to await the outcome of his case. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a possible maximum statutory penalty of life in prison.

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.

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 1-866-347-2423 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 NationalCenter for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

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.

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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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California Child Predator Charged with Online Child Enticement and Exploitation

A Fresno man made his initial appearance in federal court the afternoon of Thursday, February 14, 2013, to face charges he engaged in sexually explicit chats online with a 13-year-old boy and used the Internet to entice the boy into meeting him for sexual encounters.

David Hume, 36, was arrested Tuesday, February 12, 2013, by investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office on charges detailed in a criminal complaint. In addition to online enticement of a minor, Hume is also charged with distribution of child pornography. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

The charges stem from a probe by the Central California Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, including HSI, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Tulare Police Department. The probe allegedly revealed Hume engaged in sexually explicit online chats with the victim. The chats led to Hume’s meeting with the boy on two separate occasions last month where he sexually abused the child. According to the criminal complaint, the investigation also revealed Hume possessed numerous images and videos of child pornography, which he distributed over a peer-to-peer file sharing network.

“Those who sexually exploit children online falsely believe the Internet affords them anonymity and that their crimes will go undetected,” said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. “As this case makes clear, not only does cyberspace not shield them from detection, the technology has given law enforcement new ways to investigate these cases.”

A forensic analysis of computers seized from Hume’s home allegedly revealed the defendant had numerous online chats involving the sexual abuse of minors as well as online conversations with the 13-year-old victim. On Feb. 12, the victim informed investigators he had been sexually abused twice by Hume. That night, investigators took Hume into custody.

Investigators are concerned there may be other unidentified victims in this case. They are asking for anyone who may have information related to the defendant or the case to contact the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office at 559-600-8144. The public may also report suspicious activity by calling ICE’s toll-free hotline 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by using the agency’s online tip form.

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 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.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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El Salvador National Pleads Guilty to Recruiting Teens for Sex Trafficking Ring

An illegal alien from El Salvador pleaded guilty Wednesday February 13, 2013, to recruiting a 15-year-old runaway to engage in commercial sex for a prostitution ring.

Formerly from Adelphi, Md., Yanira del Carmen Guerrero Andrade, aka Yadira or Litsy, 28, was apprehended following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. field office with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.

Guerrero Andrade pled guilty to child sex trafficking, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2013.

“HSI will continue to thwart those who prey on teenage victims for their own greed,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres. “We cannot allow anyone to traffic vulnerable victims and think they can get away with this. We will continue to diligently work with our law enforcement partners to combat sex trafficking in our community.”

“Ms. Guerrero Andrade’s actions show just how vile the world of human trafficking is – right here in our community,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “She lured a 15-year-old girl into her boyfriend’s commercial sex trade business so she could sell her off time and time again for profit. Many people think human trafficking is a man’s business – but the recruiters are often women, and we hold them accountable.”

According a statement of facts filed with her plea agreement, Guerrero Andrade admitted that she met a 15-year-old runaway in January 2009 and encouraged her to work as a prostitute for an organization run by Julio Cesar Revolorio Ramos, whom Guerrero Andrade was dating. After the victim spoke to Revolorio Ramos by phone, Guerrero Andrade introduced the victim to him and the two of them transported the victim from Maryland into Virginia to work as a prostitute, even though they knew the victim was under 18 years of age.

On the first day the victim was trafficked, she had sexual relations with approximately 17 customers, and on the third day she had sexual relations with 25 customers. In June 2010, Guerrero Andrade invited the victim to live in the basement of the home she shared with Revolorio Ramos. One week after moving in to the home, Revolorio Ramos again prostituted the victim, and the victim paid rent with the money she received from prostitution.

Guerrero Andrade also admitted that in 2010, she provided the victim with contact information for other prostitution organizations so the victim could work for those organizations during the weeks she was not being prostituted by Revolorio Ramos.

On Feb. 8, 2013, Revolorio Ramos was sentenced to 188 months in prison for his role in sex trafficking a child.

Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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3 Florida Brothers Guilty of Marriage and Immigration Fraud

A federal jury found three Jacksonville brothers guilty of marriage fraud charges Thursday, February 7, 2013. The guilty verdicts resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Federal Air Marshal Service, the FBI, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Mowafak “Mike” Shahla, 43, Antoun “Tony” Chahla, 42, and Fadi Chahla, 40, were found guilty of participating in a conspiracy to enter into marriages for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws, making false statements to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and unlawfully attempting to procure naturalization and citizenship.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, the brothers are Syrian citizens who recruited three U.S. citizens – two sisters and their sister-in-law – to enter into fraudulent marriages. The men entered into the marriages to become legal permanent residents, and then, citizens of the United States.

Shahla, Antoun Chahla and Fadi Chahla entered into the fraudulent marriages in 1999, 2002 and 2005, respectively. They made cash payments to the women for participating in the fraudulent marriages. Some of those payments were made on a monthly basis. During part of the conspiracy, payments totaling $3,000 were made to one of the women in exchange for her traveling to Syria on two occasions. The first trip to Syria was to become engaged to Fadi Chahla, and the second trip was to enter into a fraudulent marriage with him.

Shahla, Antoun Chahla and Fadi Chahla each made false statements in their applications for legal immigration status and citizenship. They also lied to immigration officers when they were interviewed about their fraudulent marriages. Prior to the interviews with the immigration officer, the couples met to discuss the details of their purported marriages and rehearse the stories they would tell the immigration officer.

As a result of their fraudulent actions, Shahla, Antoun Chahla and Fadi Chahla became legal permanent residents of the United States, but the conspiracy was discovered by law enforcement authorities before their citizenship applications were processed. They are now subject to deportation based on their convictions.

The three women involved in the fraudulent marriages previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. They agreed to cooperate with the investigation and were each sentenced to two years of probation.

Each brother faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the other offenses. The sentencing hearings have not been scheduled.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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New York Woman Sentenced for International Parental Child Abduction

An upstate New York woman, who was convicted after a jury trial of international parental kidnapping and making a false statement on a passport application, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson. The sentence is the result of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jacqueline Bontzolakes, 38, of Tonawanda, N.Y., took two minor children out of the country in violation of the custody arrangements set by the Erie County (N.Y.) Family Court and without the knowledge or permission of their fathers.

The defendant also concealed the identity of the father of one of the minor children in applying for a passport for that child. Through the efforts of HSI special agents and officials of U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Bontzolakes was returned to the U.S. and arrested in Miami March 24, 2010. The two minor children were located and reunited with their fathers.

“Today’s sentence is just punishment for a person who kidnapped her own children and kept them away from the lawful, court designated guardian, in this case their fathers,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. “Such cases are sensitive in nature but must be handled by the proper judicial authorities when, as in this case, circumstances warrant.”

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Fauzia K. Mattingly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Opanga, Western District of New York, prosecuted this case on behalf of the U.S. government.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Illegal Mexican National Sentenced for Sex Trafficking

An illegal alien from Mexico who lived in Riverdale, Md., was sentenced Friday, January 4, 2013, to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for transporting more than 100 women from other states to engage in commercial sex in Virginia.

Marcos Sanchez Hernandez, also known as “Marquito,” 37, pleaded guilty Oct. 15, 2012, to conspiracy to transport women to engage in prostitution.

“For years, Sanchez Hernandez ran a sex trafficking ring that reached into our communities here in Virginia and out to our neighboring states,” said Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Today, he learned what we hope other sex traffickers are rapidly discovering – sex trafficking is not a viable business enterprise in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and those who engage in it will face lengthy prison time when caught.”

“Sanchez Hernandez profited for years from his multi-state sex trafficking ring,” said John P. Torres, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “HSI DC does not tolerate the exploitation of others and is committed to bringing to justice those who are involved in the sex trafficking industry.”

According to court records, from 2005 through July 2012 Sanchez Hernandez was part of a network that transported women to engage in commercial sex acts in Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and various locations in Virginia, including Fairfax County, Prince William County, Alexandria, Arlington, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He admitted to transporting more than 100 women and selling their bodies in 10 to 15-minute increments for $30.

In 2010, Sanchez Hernandez took over leadership of the enterprise and trained an employee on where to drive the prostitutes, how to collect proceeds, and how to avoid law enforcement. He advertised the prostitution business by handing out business cards at Spanish restaurants, check cashing stores, construction sites and day laborer sites. Eventually, the proceeds of the operation were sent to the enterprise’s former leader in Mexico.

This case was investigated by the HSI Transnational Gang Unit, which participates in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Virginia Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Frank are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes. From FY2011 to the present, 46 defendants have been prosecuted in 27 cases in the Eastern District of Virginia for human trafficking and trafficking-related conduct involving at least 32 victims.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Mexican National Sentenced for Sex Trafficking

An illegal alien from Mexico pleaded guilty Tuesday, December 18, 2012, to conspiring to engage in the sex trafficking of two minors. The guilty pleas resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kentucky State Police.

Adulfo De Aquino-Cancino, age 28, a resident of Taylor County, Ky., pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to conspiring to benefit financially from a prostitution venture that recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided and obtained by any means two minors. De Aquino-Cancino pleaded guilty and will serve 84 months in prison and up to a lifetime of supervised release. As part of the plea agreement, the United States agreed to dismiss counts 2, 3 and 4 of the grand jury indictment.

According to the plea agreement, between August 2011 and January 2012, De Aquino-Cancino engaged in a conspiracy where he knowingly benefitted from participating in a venture that recruited minors to engage in commercial sex acts. The conduct of the venture constituted interstate commerce because De Aquino-Cancino communicated with the minors via cellular telephone and text messages. De Aquino-Cancino was indicted by a grand jury meeting in Bowling Green, Ky., May 16.

According to an affidavit filed by HSI in support of a criminal complaint, between August 2011, and January 2012, De Aquino-Cancino recruited females, arranged for commercial sexual encounters, transported and benefited financially from commercial sex transactions involving two minors and several adults in Green, Taylor, Adair and Barren counties in the Western District of Kentucky.

On January 19, De Aquino-Cancino was interviewed by a Kentucky State Police detective. He stated that he knew several girls in the Campbellsville, Ky., area who were prostitutes. He further states that he would go to Campbellsville to pick the prostitutes up and take them to different locations where they performed commercial sex acts with the defendant’s friends. The prostitutes would in turn pay De Aquino-Cancino for driving them to the locations. De Aquino-Cancino identified the two juveniles and affirmed that he knew that what he was doing was illegal.

Following this interview, De Aquino-Cancino was arrested by the Kentucky State Police.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua D. Judd, Western District of Kentucky, is prosecuting the case.

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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative 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.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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