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Tag Archives: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

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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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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Puerto Rican Woman Indicted for Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

A Puerto Rican woman was indicted Wednesday, October 10, 2012, by a federal grand jury on prostitution and sex trafficking charges. The indictment follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to the indictment, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, Betsian Carrasquillo-Peñaloza, 34, of Loiza, Puerto Rico, recruited, 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.

“Sex trafficking is a deplorable crime, especially when it involves underage victims who are particularly vulnerable,” said Angel Melendez, acting 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.”

On Oct. 3, HSI, working jointly with Puerto Rico Police Department officers in the vicinity of Isla Grande in San Juan, arrested Carrasquillo-Peñaloza for transporting a minor with the intent to prostitute. A federal grand jury formally charged the woman with an additional charge of sex trafficking Oct. 10.

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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Texas Child Predator Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

A north Texas man, who is a registered sex offender, was sentenced Wednesday, September 5, 2012, by U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn to 30 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release. This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Adam Joshua Cortez, 31, is most recently a resident of Justin, Texas. He was sentenced following his conviction at trial in May. In July 2011, Cortez used the Internet and a cell phone to try to entice an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old girl to have sex with him. That individual, however, was an undercover police officer.

Cortez had been twice convicted in state courts of offenses similar to child enticement in 2002 and 2004. In fact, the second of those convictions occurred while he was on probation for committing the first.

This case was investigated by the Garland Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa J. Miller and Leigha A. Simonton, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Man Arrested for Attempted International Child Abduction

An Illinois man who traveled to Texas to allegedly have sex with a 14-year-old girl was arrested Tuesday, August 21, 2012, following a sting operation conducted by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. The following agencies are assisting in this investigation: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Sugar Land Police Department, and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.

James Wean Jr., 49, is charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping after being arrested near a gas station in Pin Oak, Texas, the evening of Aug. 21.

For the past two weeks Wean had been communicating online with a Sheriff’s office special crimes detective who was posing as a teenage girl. Wean drove to Texas from his home in Pearl City, Ill., a small town southwest of Springfield, Ill., near the Missouri border.

Wean originally was communicating with a real girl in Texas. When her parents noticed a strange exchange on Facebook they took away the girl’s electronic devices and called the Sheriff’s office. The indication given to the detective online was that Wean was planning to take the girl away, possibly out of the country.

A team of detectives and deputies captured Wean near a gas station not far from Interstate 10. He is being held in the Fort Bend County Jail without bond and was scheduled to appear before a magistrate Thursday, August 23, 2012.

A second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years of incarceration with a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.

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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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California Man Arrested for Part in Disturbing International Child Predator Ring

A Shasta County, Calif., man made his initial appearance in federal court the afternoon of Thursday, July 26, 2012, following his arrest on criminal charges stemming from a far-reaching international child pornography probe that has resulted in numerous arrests worldwide. He was ordered held without bail.

Jason Scarcello, 42, of Anderson, Calif., was taken into custody the morning of Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at his home by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Scarcello was arrested on probable cause after HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at his residence and discovered computers and computer storage devices containing sexually explicit images and videos of children.

According to the search warrant affidavit, suspicions about Scarcello first arose after investigators determined he had engaged in computer chats with another suspect previously charged in the case, Michael Arnett. From August 2010 through March 2012, Scarcello and Arnett allegedly discussed in computer chats the abduction, torture, murder, and cannibalism of child victims.

“The images and other details we’ve uncovered during the course of this far-reaching probe are, without question, some of the most profoundly disturbing evidence we’ve ever encountered in a child sexual exploitation case,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. “We are still aggressively investigating whether any of the suspects ever actually acted on their unspeakable dialogues and we urge the public to contact HSI or local authorities if they have any information that may be relevant to our efforts.”

Today’s charges are part of Operation Holitna, an ongoing HSI-led investigation that originated in Boston. In 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and HSI Boston arrested Robert Diduca on child pornography production charges. He was convicted and subsequently sentenced in June 2012. Forensic analysis of Diduca’s computer led investigarors to the Netherlands where a Dutch national was arrested and charged with production, distribution and possession of child pornography, as well as the sexual assault of 87 minors. Since that time, a worldwide network of offenders has been, and continues to be, unraveled, including today’s defendant. Defendants and victims continue to be identified around the world. To date, more than 140 children have been rescued and 42 perpetrators arrested worldwide – including Scarcello – as a result of Operation Holitna.

This case is also the result of HSI’s Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, which was launched to increase federal prosecution of child sex predators, and to reduce the number of Internet crimes against children including child pornography trafficking.

As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

As a part of Project Safe Childhood, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has teamed with state and local agencies and organizations to increase law enforcement presence on the Internet, and to educate the public about safe Internet use, thereby reducing the risk that children might fall prey to online sexual predators. For additional information on the Project Safe Childhood, please go to http://www.projectsafechildhood.com or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the Project Safe Childhood coordinator.

 
 

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