Previously Removed Felon Pleads Guilty for Failing to Update Sex Offender Registration
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Salvadoran national pleaded guilty today to failing to update his registration as a sex offender.
“Jose Claros-Lopez is a dangerous sex offender who has demonstrated that he is a threat to community members and has a blatant disregard for America’s laws,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are committed to protecting the vulnerable victims in our community and will continue to work tirelessly to prosecute criminals who threaten them.”
According to court documents, Claros-Lopez, 36, had previously entered the United States unlawfully and was convicted in 2006 of rape, an aggravated felony, in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia. After serving 13 years in prison for his conviction, Claros-Lopez was removed from the United States to El Salvador. He unlawfully reentered the country at some point thereafter and took up residence in Herndon, Virginia. He lived in Herndon from at least January 2020 until his arrest in April 2020.
Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, Claros-Lopez’s conviction for felony rape required him to register as a sex offender and keep his registration current in any jurisdiction where he resided, worked, or attended school. He knowingly failed to update his registration with the Virginia Sex Offender Registry when he unlawfully reentered the United States.
“I am proud of the Deputy Marshals and our federal partners who worked on this case. Not only did this defendant illegally reenter our country, but when he did so, he further violated our laws by not registering as a sex offender,” said Nick E. Proffitt, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia. “I hope this case will allow the citizens in Eastern Virginia to rest easier tonight, and that it sends a signal to other potential offenders that the men and women of the Marshals Service will work day and night to protect the citizens of this great nation”
Claros-Lopez pleaded guilty to failing to update his registration as a sex offender. Claros-Lopez faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, followed by a mandatory minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, when he is sentenced on January 13, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
“Claros-Lopez was convicted of a violent and cruel crime, served 13 years, and because he was illegally present, was removed from the United States. He chose to flout the law and return, hiding within our community,” said Matthew Munroe, Acting Washington Field Office Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). “Thanks to the dedication and cooperation of our law enforcement partners, he can no longer hide in the shadows.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Matthew Munroe, Acting Field Office Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Washington, D.C.; and Nick E. Proffitt, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia. made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa L. Chong is prosecuting the case and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney William G. Clayman assisted with the prosecution.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-138.