By The Star Staff
Two men were arrested by federal Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents on criminal charges related to child exploitation, according to a report issued Monday.
Last Friday, the Puerto Rico Juvenile Crimes Task Force, led by HSI, arrested Elvin Jhohanie Molina Rosado, a 35-year-old man from Corozal.
A federal grand jury indicted Molina-Rosado last Wednesday on four counts of sexual exploitation of minors, sexual seduction of a minor, receiving child exploitation material, and possession of child exploitation material.
“We are committed to bringing the defendants in these cases to justice and protecting every child,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, in a written statement.
“I would like to thank the state and local agents and partners who are tireless in their pursuit of child predators,” he added.
According to court documents, from February 2020 to April 2022, the defendant used his computer, cell phones and social media applications to persuade and seduce a minor between the ages of 12 and 14 to engage in sexually explicit conduct. During the same period, Molina Rosado produced, received and transmitted child exploitation material. He also possessed and accessed with the intention of viewing such material, which contained images of child pornography.
If convicted, the defendant faces a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Jenifer Hernández Vega, head of the Child Exploitation and Immigration Unit, is prosecuting the case.
In a separate case, Edwin Martínez Ortiz, a 45-year-old man from Caguas, was also arrested on Friday by HSI agents from the Fajardo office.
A federal indictment and arrest warrant were issued last Wednesday against Martínez Ortiz for two counts of sexual exploitation of minors and possession of child exploitation material.
According to the indictment, from March 2016 to May 1, 2022, the defendant knowingly used a cell phone to induce a minor between 10 and 16 years old to engage in sexually explicit conduct, and to produce and transmit the representation of the behavior. During the same period, Martínez Ortiz possessed and accessed with the intention of viewing images of child exploitation material, including of a prepubescent minor or a minor who had not reached 12 years of age.
If he is convicted, Martínez Ortiz faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the federal sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. AUSA Emelina Agrait Barreto of the Child Exploitation and Immigration Unit is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is simply an allegation and all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Rebecca González Ramos, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan, said: “Individuals who attack our most vulnerable will be prosecuted and brought to justice.”
“HSI agents will protect our children from these predators by dedicating every effort toward collecting evidence from electronic devices and our multidisciplinary team will assist victims and their families to ensure their mental health during these investigations,” she added.
The cases were 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 U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood mobilizes federal, state and local resources to locate, arrest and prosecute individuals who exploit children over the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue the victims. More information about Project Safe Childhood can be found at www.justice.gov/psc.