SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 50-year-old man was arrested in San Sebastian Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for allegedly transporting a female minor to several motels with the intent that she engage in criminal sexual conduct.
After receiving substantial assistance from local authorities, including the Puerto Rico Police Department’s Sexual Crimes Division and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, HSI special agents arrested Hilton Rios-Rivera, aka Pochy, for having transported a 14-year-old minor on approximately three different occasions to motels in Aguada and Añasco in order to engage in sexually explicit conduct with her.
"The horrific abuse inflicted upon this child is just unspeakable," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Predators destroy lives, and HSI will continue to do everything it can to protect children by investigating and seeking prosecution wherever these criminals may be found. Citizens should rest assured that HSI will investigate all instances of child exploitation that come to our attention whether they are the product of our own intelligence or are based on referrals from local law enforcement or third parties."
According to the criminal complaint, in April 2013, Rios-Rivera met the minor at an event where he was singing. When the minor’s mother left her side, he approached the minor and gave her his business card and asked her to contact him. When she later contacted him, he transported her to at least two different motels in the western part of the island where he engaged in criminal sexual conduct with her.
On Wednesday, Rios-Rivera had his initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce J. McGiverin. Judge McGiverin ordered him temporarily detained until the date of his detention hearing. This investigation was conducted by HSI San Juan, with the assistance of the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marshal D. Morgan and Ginette Milanes.
In the past 17 months, federal authorities have indicted 20 individuals for transporting minors within Puerto Rico for an illicit sexual purpose. This success has come, in large part, due to the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement and government agencies.
This case demonstrates how the agencies effectively pool their resources to investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Law enforcement officers share evidence, ideas and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, the task force allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.
This investigation was conducted under 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.