Ruben Rosas-Avalos, courtesy of North Carolina Department of Correction.

A Lee County resident was sentenced on November 17 to six months in federal prison and was judicially denaturalized, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Greensboro.

Ruben Rosas-Avalos, 25, naturalized citizen of the United States, born in Mexico and residing in Lee County, was sentenced by United States District Judge Loretta C. Biggs. Rosas-Avalos pleaded guilty to naturalization fraud on July 20, 2021.

According to court records, on February 23, 2016, Rosas-Avalos fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship by making materially false statements under oath regarding his naturalization application. In response to the question “have you ever committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?” he answered “no.”

On March 28, 2019, in the Superior Court of North Carolina in Lee County, Rosas-Avalos was convicted of statutory rape of a child and indecent liberties with a child. Rosas-Avalos was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of over 26 years and ordered to register as a sex offender. According to court records, Rosas-Avalos committed the offense of indecent liberties with a child in July 2015 and committed the offense of statutory rape of a child in September 2017. The victims of those crimes were two different children. Rosas-Avalos was not arrested until after he naturalized, thus immigration officials were unaware of his crimes. He is currently serving his state sentence at Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor.

Sandra J. Hairston, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, made the announcement. Agents with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations assigned to the Document Benefit Fraud Task Force investigated the case as part of Operation False Haven, an ongoing initiative purpose-built to aggressively identify and prosecute child molesters and other egregious felons who fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank J. Chut.