San Juan, Puerto Rican - A former pastor and two other men received a collective sentence of 68 years Wednesday for transporting minors with the intent to engage them in criminal sexual conduct. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF), conducted the investigation.
Nelson Santiago-Colon, 49, former pastor of the Peniel Christian Church located in Santa Isabel, was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release. HSI special agents arrested him February 2013 in Ponce. According to the three-count complaint, Santiago-Colon transported a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy from the Peniel Christian Church to his home for the purpose of committing sexual assault and lewd acts with the minors. Count three charges him with transporting a 14-year-old minor from the minor's home to his home with the intent to perform lewd acts on the minor.
Hilton Rios-Rivera, 51, of San Sebastian, was sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release for 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.
Roberto Quiles-Ayala, of Cidra, was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for transporting a female who had not attained the age of 18 years with the intent that the female engage in sexual activity,
In response to the need for an island-wide approach in the fight against 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 the 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.
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 12,000 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 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 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 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.