SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force officers, arrested Thursday a 60-year-old man in Guayama for production of child pornography.
HSI special agents arrested Oscar Gonzalez-Vazquez at his residence after a preliminary investigation revealed that he produced sexually explicit images of a 4-year-old girl.
According to the criminal complaint, on June 18, HSI received information from the Puerto Rico Police Department that Gonzalez-Vazque had in his possession at least three videos depicting child pornography.
On June 19, ICE HSI special agents obtained and executed a search warrant at Gonzalez-Vazquez's residence. A preliminary computer forensic analysis of Gonzalez-Vazquez's computer yielded a positive result for the presence of child pornography with at least three videos depicting Gonzalez-Vazquez committing lascivious acts against the minor. He was immediately arrested by HSI special agents.
"Sexual assault represents a very serious crime but when this type of assault is against a 4-year-old girl it is simply incomprehensible," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "HSI is committed to apprehending individuals who sexually exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence. We will continue working with the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force to investigate such reprehensible actions."
Gonzalez-Vazquez had his initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Silvia Carreño-Coll on Thursday. He was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting his detention hearing that is scheduled to take place June 24.
More than 550 victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation have been identified by HSI special agents in the first eight months of fiscal year 2014. The victims were identified during the course of HSI-led or jointly-led child exploitation investigations ranging from the production and distribution of online child pornography to child sex tourism. Of the 585 children identified this fiscal year as part of HSI international investigations into child sexual exploitation, 430 victims were located in the United States in nearly every corner of the country. Slightly more girls were victimized than boys: 288 girls versus 264 boys. The HSI San Juan office reported 19 victims, 15 females and 4 males for the reporting period.
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.
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.