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HomeBreaking NewsIllegal Immigrant Charged in Third Fatal Crash, This One in Waukesha County

Illegal Immigrant Charged in Third Fatal Crash, This One in Waukesha County


Top Facts
  • Israel Martinez Lopez is accused of killing his passenger in a reckless crash in the Town of Lisbon, in Waukesha County, this month.
  • There is an ICE hold on him in the jail. He is in the country illegally, sources say.
  • He was driving almost twice the speed limit, the criminal complaint says.
  • He was previously cited for speeding and driving without a license in 2019 in Waukesha County.
  • It’s the third fatal crash involving an illegal immigrant in southeastern Wisconsin in just over 2 months.
  • One of those illegal immigrants doesn’t have an ICE hold on him because Milwaukee County refuses to cooperate with ICE, meaning he could theoretically walk out of the jail door if he posts bail.
  • Only 8 Wisconsin Sheriff’s Departments have partnerships with ICE to screen jail inmates for immigration status.

A third illegal immigrant has been charged in a fatal Wisconsin crash in southeastern Wisconsin in just over two months, this one in Waukesha County, Wisconsin Right Now has learned.

Israel martinez lopez
Israel martinez lopez

Israel Martinez Lopez has an ICE detainer hold on him in the Waukesha County Jail, Sheriff Eric Severson confirmed to Wisconsin Right Now. Severson could not provide additional details due to ICE rules, but a non-Sheriff’s Department source confirmed to WRN that Lopez is in the United States illegally.

In just over two months:

  • On Jan. 1, Juan Felix-Avendano is accused of killing a Special Olympian and severely injuring his elderly mother in a horrific drunk-driving crash in Milwaukee County. There is no immigration hold on him because the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department refuses to cooperate with ICE.
  • On Dec. 12, 2022, Ernest Regalado Rodriguez is accused of driving drunk and killing another motorist, 20-year-old nurse Johanna Pascoe in Caledonia, Wisconsin. He has an immigration hold in the Racine County Jail, according to records obtained by Wisconsin Right Now.

Lopez is accused of killing his passenger in a fatal crash in the Town of Lisbon on Jan. 18, 2023. The criminal complaint said he was traveling 80 in a 45 mph zone, according to witnesses, and crossed the center line. He had no driver’s license, the complaint says. Victim and witness identification was sealed by the court, according to court records. Court Commissioner David Herring set bail at $200,000. A Spanish interpreter was needed.

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Sheriff Severson has been a leader among sheriffs when it comes to immigration enforcement. The sheriff applied for and received legal status to screen inmates for immigration status in the Waukesha County Jail, a process called 287(g). It’s a dramatic contrast to Milwaukee County, where the Sheriff’s Department has refused to cooperate with ICE about inmates in its jail. Because of Severson’s actions, were Lopez to post bail, ICE would keep him in custody.

According to ICE, the U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) Program “enhances the safety and security of communities by creating partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove non-citizens who are amenable to removal from the United States.”

However, only 8 Wisconsin Sheriff’s Departments participate in it, according to ICE. They are: Brown, Fond du Lac, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marquette, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Waushara Counties.

The liberal media have focused their stories on criticizing sheriffs who cooperate with ICE. A story posted on the liberal site Urban Milwaukee noted that “between 2006 and 2020, ICE tried to deport over 12,000 immigrants who they picked up from jails and prisons across the state,” painting this as somehow a bad thing. In 2020, only seven Wisconsin sheriffs had signed 287g agreements allowing ICE to screen inmates in their jails for immigration status, the story says. That’s even though the federal government “partially reimburses counties for the cost of incarcerating inmates living in the country without legal permission,” the story says. That’s called the Scaap program.

According to online court records, in 2019, Lopez was cited for speeding and for not having a driver’s license in Waukesha County. He didn’t show up in court in those cases and paid fines. The sheriff’s program is corrections-focused only.

He is charged now with first-degree reckless homicide with use of a dangerous weapon, three counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon, and knowingly operating while suspended, causing death.

In a news release, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department wrote that, on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at 11:29 a.m., Waukesha County Communication Center “was advised of a head on collision where a vehicle overturned and was on fire at the intersection of Townline Rd. and Schlei Rd. in the Town of Lisbon.”

Initial investigation “shows a vehicle with two occupants operating northbound on Townline Rd. when it crossed into the southbound lanes of traffic striking another vehicle that was traveling southbound.”

The passenger of the northbound vehicle was pronounced deceased at the scene, the Sheriff’s Department wrote.

“The driver of the northbound vehicle was taken by Flight for Life to Froedtert in Wauwatosa with serious injuries. The driver of the southbound vehicle was transport to Froedtert Menomonee Falls with non-life-threatening injuries.”

According to the Sheriff’s Department: “Menomonee Falls Fire Department and Lisbon Fire Department had a conjoined effort in extricating all occupants from both vehicles. Assistance was provided by Menomonee Falls Police Department, Lannon Police Department, Germantown Police Department, and Merton Community Fire Department. Wisconsin State Patrol assisted with accident reconstruction. Traffic was shut down on Townline Rd. for 4.5 hours during the investigation.”

Jim Piwowarczyk
Jim Piwowarczyk is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Wisconsin Right Now.

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