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Man reportedly in the US illegally pled guilty to vehicular assault in 2018 Lynden crash

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A man reported to be in the country illegally pled guilty to vehicular assault yesterday in Whatcom County Superior Court and was sentenced to a year and a day in custody plus a year-and-a-half in community custody.

Jose Vazquez-Lopez, now age 50, residing in Lynden was arrested on April 29, 2018 and ultimately faced 2 counts of vehicular assault following a crash that occurred after the vehicle he was driving failed to stop at a stop sign on Van Dyk Road at Hannegan Road and collided with another vehicle on Hannegan Road. The 3 occupants of the other vehicle suffered injuries and were transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center. The Washington State Patrol said he had been driving under the influence.

Vazquez-Lopez posted a $25,000 bond on May 11, 2018 and was released from custody while waiting trial. He failed to appear for a court hearing on June 27, 2018 due to being in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody according to his lawyer and a bench warrant for his arrest was issued and the bond revoked.

Vazquez-Lopez was rebooked into Whatcom County Jail on December 8, 2020. At the time, ICE Northwest Region Communications Director Tanya Roman was quoted by David Olen Cross as saying “On Dec. 8, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers encountered Vazquez-Lopez as part of a targeted enforcement action.” “During processing, ICE ERO officers discovered Vazquez-Lopez had an outstanding local arrest warrant for vehicular assault. ICE ERO served Vazquez-Lopez with a Notice to Appear and turned him over to the custody of the Whatcom County Jail based on the outstanding warrant.”

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Roman also noted Vazquez-Lopez “is a citizen of Mexico who is in the United States illegally” and “with a long history of disregarding the country’s immigration laws, having been voluntarily returned or removed to Mexico at least 10 times since 1999.”

Vazquez-Lopez was released from custody on December 11, 2020 after posting a $50,000 bond.

Yesterday, September 28th, Vazquez-Lopez’s guilty plea was accepted and the charges reduced to a single vehicular assault charge. According to court records, he was given an exceptionally long sentence of a year and a day in custody plus a year-and-a-half in community custody. He was also ordered to pay $800 in court costs. He was immediately returned to custody to serve out the sentence.

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