HILLSBOROUGH, NC (WTVD) -- Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials said the Orange County Sheriff's Office released a man who was in the country illegally after he was convicted of sexual battery of an 11-year-old girl.
Uriel Aguilar Castellanos was convicted of two counts of sexual battery at the end of June. He was also convicted in 2014 for driving while intoxicated.
"It's threatening our communities," said Joe Sifuentez, ICE Deputy Field Office Director.
Sifuentez said it was a priority to get Aguilar off the streets and out of the country. So ICE issued a detainer.
After a plea negotiated with the Orange County District Attorney's Office, Aguilar's felony charges of second-degree kidnap and indecent liberties were reduced to sexual battery. Aguilar was convicted of two counts of sexual battery and received a sentence of 150 days active time.
"Orange County, although they knew of the conviction, they chose not to honor an ICE detainer. He was subsequently released from their custody," Sifuentez said.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office paints a different picture.
In a statement, the sheriff's office said Aguilar was convicted but had spent 300 days in jail during the legal process. During that time, the sheriff says ICE did not take Aguilar into custody, though "at any point" in that time, it could have done so.
It said that when the sheriff's office tried to contact ICE officials before his release, efforts were unsuccessful. With no probable cause to keep him in custody, the department said that constitutionally, it had to release Aguilar.
When ICE caught up with Aguilar, they also took four other undocumented immigrants into custody who were with him at the time of his arrest in Carrboro.
ICE officials said about 89 percent of the immigrants deported have some type of violent criminal offense on their records.
"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."