ICE arrests Toa Alta woman, partner for production child pornography
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Following a referral by the Toa Alta Municipal Police, a woman of this locality and her partner were arrested Tuesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for production of child pornography. Both arrests were executed without incident.
HSI special agents arrested Veronica Calderon-Velez, 36, of Toa Alta, and Jose A. Ayala-Cedeño, 56, of Bayamon, after a joint ICE HSI and Toa Alta Municipal Police investigation revealed that in or about January 2017 through in or about March 2018, Ayala-Cedeño requested that Calderon-Velez produce sexually explicit images and videos of two female minors identified as Minor Female #1 and Minor Female #2.
“Child pornography indelibly victimizes our kids,” said Orlando Baez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “It is a permanent record of the sexual abuse of children, many of whom are very, very young. It is shocking that often times an adult close the victim or a family member is the author of the trauma these kids endure – both physical and emotional trauma from the sexual abuse itself, and psychological trauma from knowing that images of that abuse are circulating on the Internet.”
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, ICE HSI responded to the Toa Alta Municipal Police precinct March 9 to obtain more details regarding a child exploitation allegation against Calderon-Velez. The investigation revealed that she recorded videos of Minor Female #1 and Minor Female #2 while they were taking a shower and that she also videotaped both minors wearing underwear focusing on the minors’ genital area. The investigation also revealed that, acting on Ayala-Cedeño’s request, Calderon-Vélez sent the sexually explicit photos of the minors to him using an instant messaging cellular phone application.
Both defendants had their initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos López on Tuesday. They were transferred to the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. The detention hearing is set for March 16.
Both arrestees face a sentence of at least 15 years if found guilty.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Evelyn Canals and Ginette L. Milanés are prosecuting the case.
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 16,000 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 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.
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. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
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.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member 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.
SOURCE – ICE