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Published On: Tue, Sep 25th, 2018

Puerto Rico: Former teacher Yaira Tanies Cotto-Flores sentenced to 10 years in prison for sex trafficking case

Former teacher Yaira Tanies Cotto-Flores was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison followed by eight years of supervised release for transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation that led to the arrest and subsequent conviction of Cotto-Flores.

On April 27, after a nine-day jury trial Cotto-Flores was found guilty of one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. According to the evidence presented at trial, on March 1, 2016, the defendant transported a 14-year-old male student to a motel located in San Lorenzo with the intent to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Cotto-Flores was the victim’s English teacher. They met at the beginning of the school year and the defendant gave the victim various gifts including an acne treatment kit, a neckband and wristwatch.

Yaira Tanies Cotto-Flores

“Children who are sexually exploited either physically or through the dissemination of child pornography suffer immeasurable harm,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “While this significant sentence cannot repair the damage done, it should serve as a stark reminder that we are watching, and the aggressive investigation and prosecution of predators remains a high priority for HSI.”

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Daniel R. Dominguez sentenced Cotto-Flores Monday.

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.

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