RALEIGH, N.C. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested an unlawfully present Mexican national Monday who is a registered sex offender in Orange County, North Carolina, after the county refused to honor an ICE detainer and instead released him from local custody in June without any notification to ICE. Orange County’s refusal to honor ICE’s detainer, or to even notify the agency that it was releasing a convicted sex offender, allowed the subject to pose a public safety threat to North Carolina residents for nearly a month until his capture Monday.
Udiel Aguilar-Castellanos, an unlawfully present Mexican national subject to a final order of removal issued by a federal immigration judge in January 2015, was arrested at his Carrboro, North Carolina, residence Monday morning by a Raleigh-based ICE Fugitive Operations Team.
Mr. Aguilar-Castellanos pleaded guilty June 27 in Orange County to two counts of sexual battery and was required to register as a sex offender as part of his plea agreement. His victim is a pre-teen minor female. That same day, Orange County authorities released him from local custody without notifying ICE – ignoring an immigration detainer filed by ICE in September 2017 when Aguilar-Castellanos was initially charged.
While ICE attempted to keep track of Mr. Aguilar-Castellanos’s case, local officials did not provide the agency with updates and ICE was therefore unaware of his June 27 release from Orange County custody until he registered with Orange County as a sex offender July 11, which immediately prompted ICE to begin efforts to locate him in the community. Those efforts culminated in the arrest of Mr. Aguilar-Castellanos at his Carrboro residence early Monday.
After remaining an immigration fugitive for more than two years, Mr. Aguilar-Castellanos is now in ICE custody pending his removal from the U.S.
“Nearly 90 percent of all foreign nationals taken into ICE custody this year were targeted following their criminal arrest. Despite efforts by certain groups to misrepresent this reality, the fact is ICE continues to focus its enforcement efforts toward criminals and public safety threats,” said ERO Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher. “When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety.”
Through the first half of FY18, more than two-thirds of all persons arrested by ICE are convicted criminals. Of the remaining individuals, approximately 60 percent of those individuals came into ICE custody following their criminal arrest – reflecting the agency’s continued prioritization of its limited enforcement resources on aliens who pose the greatest threat to public safety.
In addition to his sexual battery conviction Mr. Aguilar-Castellanos also has a 2014 conviction for driving while intoxicated.