Former teacher Yaira Tanies Cotto-Flores was sentenced on 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.
“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.