CBP, HSI arrest Canadian citizen for possession of child pornography
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 Thursday a Canadian citizen 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 from Panama City, Panama and CBP officers found child pornography in some of the electronic equipment he carried during a CBP routine inspection.
According to the criminal complaint Courchesne stated that he is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent girls between the ages of 10 and 12 and that he enjoys seeing them naked. The charging document further alleges that Courchesne was a paid subscriber to a news group called giganews 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.
"It is critically important that we continue to be successful in detecting individuals such as this who attempt to conceal its illegal activities and move across international borders with perceived impunity", stated Marcelino Borges, Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. " We remain vigilant and prepared to detect and intercept all persons, baggage and merchandise that do not comply with our laws, corrupts the most vulnerable in society and places our citizens in danger."
“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.”
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.
In June 2011, the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF) was created by HSI San Juan to respond to the need for an island-wide approach to fighting the escalating number of predatory crimes against children. The task force is a partnership between HSI San Juan and members of local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as local and state government officials and community leaders.
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 a unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.
The task force and its investigations are 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.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.