SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, arrested a Canadian citizen Thursday for possession of child pornography.
HSI special agents arrested Denis Victor Courchesne, 45, of Canada, at the Luis Muniz International Airport when he arrived in San Juan from Panama City, Panama and CBP officers found child pornography in some of the electronic equipment he carried during a routine inspection.
According to the criminal complaint, Courchesne was a paid subscriber to a news group from which he downloaded hundreds of images depicting child pornography. A preliminary forensic analysis by HSI of Courchesne's electronic devices revealed multiple videos and advertisements containing child pornography.
"The possession of child pornography and its transportation across international boundaries is a very serious crime," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Have no doubt, HSI will continue identifying, arresting and prosecuting those who hurt the most vulnerable segment of our society – our children. A sexually explicit image of a minor will leave the young victim with permanent psychological, physical and emotional scars and we will simply not tolerate that."
"It is critically important that we continue to be successful in detecting individuals who attempt to conceal their illegal activities and move across international borders with perceived impunity," stated Marcelino Borges, director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. "We remain vigilant and prepared to detect and intercept all persons, baggage and merchandise that does not comply with our laws, corrupts the most vulnerable in society and places our citizens in danger."
Prior to the creation of HSI in 2003, legacy U.S. Customs special agents investigated the disbursement of illegal child pornography that was often sent by mail or purchased overseas. With the advent of the Internet, the sharing and trading of child pornography now primarily occurs online. In addition to the legacy expertise, HSI special agents also have the authority to investigate the illegal movement of people and goods across U.S. borders, and because the Internet is borderless, the sharing of contraband online is an international crime. An image on the Web of a child being sexually abused can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world. Operation Predator draws on the agency's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children. And, with 200 U.S. offices and more than 70 offices overseas, HSI has the ability to follow a case – to rescue a victim or arrest a predator – wherever in the world it may lead.
This 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.