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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Federal agents arrest and charge a teacher from Mayagüez with child exploitation



A 29-year-old teacher from Mayagüez was arrested Wednesday after being indicted on one count of coercion and enticement of a minor and one count of receipt of child exploitation material.

By The Star Staff


A Mayagüez teacher was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents on criminal charges related to child exploitation conduct, federal prosecutor W. Stephen Muldrow announced Wednesday.


“The accused, who was entrusted by the community to protect and teach our children, violated that sacred trust by attacking a child,” Muldrow said in a written statement. “As this case demonstrates, we will aggressively target those who prey on children.”


“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute individuals who exploit minors for sexual purposes,” the official said.


On Feb. 29, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico indicted Kiara Ramos Meléndez, 29, on one count of coercion and enticement of a minor and one count of receipt of child exploitation material. On Wednesday, the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF), led by the HSI, arrested Ramos Meléndez.


According to court documents, from November 2022 to October 2023, the defendant used her cell phone, as well as internet instant messaging services to persuade and seduce a minor, between 13 and 14 years old, to participate in activities sexual acts and requesting and receiving sexually explicit images of the minor. From November 2022 to April 2023, Ramos Meléndez received sexually explicit images of the minor via WhatsApp.


Rebecca González Ramos, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan, said: “People in a position of public trust have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. A teacher is one of the first lines of protection for our minors.”


“Predators do not have a profile, there are [predators in] all genders; it is our job to investigate them all and protect our children,” she said. “HSI is vigilant and we will not allow a single individual to tarnish the name of all the incredible teachers who have a real commitment to teaching and, most importantly, protecting their students.”


If convicted of charges of coercing and inciting a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct, Ramos Meléndez faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years to life, and for receipt of child pornography she faces a mandatory minimum sentence of a five-year prison sentence, up to 20 years, with all counts followed by a period of supervised release after a prison sentence of not less than five years to life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other legal factors.


Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA), Daynelle Álvarez Lora, of the Child Exploitation and Immigration Unit, is prosecuting the case. The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a national initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute people who exploit children over the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue to the victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.justice.gov/psc.


An indictment is simply an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


To learn more about HSI’s efforts to protect children from sexual predators, visit iGuardians: Combating Child Predators and to report suspicious activity call 787-729-6969. To learn more about HSI’s efforts to protect children from online sexual abuse, visit https://www.ice.gov/topics/iGuardians.

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