SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A 22-year-old man from Vieques was arrested in Fajardo Friday for production of child pornography and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, conducted the investigation that led to the arrest Vieques resident.
HSI special agents arrested Joshua L. Ayala-Carmona after they received a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department’s Sexual Crimes Division. The division identified Ayala-Carmano after he requested sexually explicit images of a 14-year-old minor and transported the same minor with the intent to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
"HSI will not tolerate child exploitation in our jurisdiction and will continue to relentlessly pursue predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it's accomplished by exploiting their images," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Last year HSI San Juan arrested an unprecedented number of individuals on child exploitation charges netting 53 arrests – that is more than one arrest per week. With seven arrests so far this year, there is a good chance that HSI will exceed last year’s record numbers and this, by itself, should send a clear message to child predators – HSI will seek you and arrest you."
According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 8, Ayala-Carmona sent the victim text messages where he requested nude images of her and tried to coordinate transportation for her to a nearby residence with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Meconiates.
In response to the need for an island-wide approach to fight 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 in June 2011.
Through the task force, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to 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.