A Mexican citizen who was deported by U.S. immigration officials after he was convicted of child sex crimes is now headed to federal prison for illegally returning to the same North Charleston community where he molested a child.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers located Carlos Bartolo Rios in October 2022 in North Charleston as part of a federal operation focused on removing unauthorized immigrants throughout the country who have been convicted of a sex crime, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Rios had been deported in 2021 after he was convicted in Charleston County of sexually abusing a 9-year-old.
Rios pleaded guilty in federal court to entering the country illegally after having previously been deported and convicted of an aggravated felony. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. He was sentenced Nov. 16 in a downtown Charleston courtroom to one year in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
District Judge David Norton order Rios to be turned over to immigration authorities after his release from prison.
Court papers do not reveal how Rios reentered the country, but it was not long after he was initially deported back to Mexico following his conviction in state court.
Rios was arrested in December 2019 by Charleston County sheriff’s deputies on allegations he raped a 9-year-old girl on multiple occasions at his mobile home, according to Charleston County court records. A magistrate judge denied him bail.
Rios, who was 29 at the time, was working in construction in North Charleston where he had lived for 15 years, according to a pretrial services report. He was married with three children. But he did not have authorization to be in the country.
Details of Rios’s criminal conduct surfaced in October 2019 when the girl first reported the sexual assaults to her school counselor, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The child later told a forensic interviewer graphic details of the sexual assaults, which occurred over the course of several months at Rios’ residence, per the affidavit. The victim was in the fourth grade at the time.
Rios, the affidavit states, told the girl “not to tell anyone.”
Rios was charged with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and one count of dissemination of obscene material to a minor. First-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years in state prison upon conviction.
Rios pleaded guilty in February 2021 to third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and dissemination of obscene material to a minor. He was sentenced to time served: 417 days in the county jail.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson previously told The Post and Courier that issues regarding evidence and concerns for the child’s well-being led the prosecutor in the case to accept Rios’s plea to avoid a trial. Wilson said the defendant’s status as an undocumented immigrant did not influence the plea offer.
The following month, Rios was deported to Mexico. He returned to the country sometime that year. Rios was never placed on S.C. State Law Enforcement Division’s sex offender registry.
Rios, appeared in Charleston’s federal court on Nov. 16 in a blue and white striped jumpsuit and shackles, declined through an interpreter to speak at his sentencing hearing.