SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A 24-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in Cidra for allegedly transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct. The arrest follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of Puerto Rico Police Department's (PRPD).
HSI special agents arrested Roberto Quiles-Ayala, 24, after a federal grand jury charged him with transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
According to the indictment, Quiles-Ayala transported a female who had not attained the age of 18 years with the intent that the female engage in sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.
"This case demonstrates that there are serious consequences for those who sexually exploit our children," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "We will continue working with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners to investigate predators and ensure that they feel the full weight of the law."
Quiles-Ayala had his preliminary hearing Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Marcos Lopez. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo pending the outcome of his case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elba Gorbea.
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 the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (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.
The investigation is part of 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 10,000 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 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
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. 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.
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.