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Press Release

Operation False Haven: Convicted Child Rapist Sentenced for Naturalization Fraud, Criminally Denaturalized and Judicially Ordered Removed from the United States

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that today, in federal court, J. Refugio Gomez-Juarez, age 51, a naturalized citizen of the United States, born in Mexico, residing in Franklin County, was sentenced by United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to 6 months imprisonment following a guilty plea to naturalization fraud. Moreover, Gomez-Juarez was criminally denaturalized as a United States citizen and ordered removed from the United States by the court.

According to the indictment, on September 1, 2010, after submitting an Application for Naturalization to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Gomez-Juarez made a false statement under oath during his naturalization interview. In response to the question “Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?” he answered “No.”

On September 17, 2010, Gomez-Juarez was granted United States citizenship and issued a naturalization certificate which he subsequently used to fraudulently apply for and receive multiple U.S. passports. 

On March 1, 2016, in the Superior Court of North Carolina in Franklin County, Gomez-Juarez was convicted of second-degree forcible rape for knowingly having vaginal intercourse with a mentally disabled child against her will.  According to the judgment, the crime was committed on January 1, 2007, before he applied for naturalization.  Gomez-Juarez was not arrested for the rape until 2011. Thus, immigration officials were not aware of the crime.

G. Norman Acker, III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. Agents with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations and Homeland Security Investigations, assigned to the Document Benefit Fraud Task Force, investigated the case as part of Operation False Haven. Operation False Haven is an ongoing initiative, in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation, designed to identify and prosecute child molesters and other egregious felons who fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship.

Related court documents and information are located on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-cr-00345-BO.

Updated March 25, 2021