ICE Detainer Issued for Suspected Wine Country Arsonist in Sonoma Jail

More Wine Country fires (David McNew / Getty)
David McNew / Getty

UPDATE: Consistent with our subsequent coverage of the California wildfires, this story has been updated to clarify that Jesus Fabian Gonzales is not suspected of the recent Sonoma County fires that killed 40 residents.

The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) issued a detainer request on the Sonoma County Jail for Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, who was arrested Sunday on suspicion of arson in Wine Country fires.

Breitbart News reported earlier this week that Sonoma County Sheriffs had arrested Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, 29, at Maxwell Regional Park in Sonoma County after a series of reports of ongoing fires in the region. Mr. Gonzalez was observed around 3:00 p.m. PDT wearing a jacket and walking “out of the creek area and a plume of smoke behind him,” according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Mr. Gonzalez, who is homeless and reportedly known by law enforcement to have been living under a nearby bridge, claimed he was cold and had lit the fire to stay warm. But it was a balmy 78 degrees when he and the plume of smoke were first observed.

Mr. Gonzalez was booked into the Sonoma County Jail for suspicion of felony arson. His bail was set at a steep $110,000, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff Public Information Officer.

Sargent Spencer Crum told Breitbart that Mr. Gonzalez is also on a U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) detainer request, despite Sonoma County declaring itself as a “sanctuary county” in May 2014. The county only cooperates with “ICE holds” if the prisoner has been convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor offence that falls within the Trust Act within the last five years. Mr. Gonzalez’s immigration status has not yet been announced.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues detainers are a violation of “unreasonable searches and seizures” under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

The Sonoma County Sheriff Department’s “1.0 Policy Statement” reads: “No person shall be held solely on the basis of their immigration status.” The policy adds that “the immigration status of a person, and the lack of immigration documentation, should have no bearing on the manner in which Sheriff’s Office personnel execute their duties.”

According to ICE documents, Sonoma County declined 491 detainer requests in 2014 and 2015. During the 2017 period from January 28 through February 3, when President Donald Trump issued his immigration Executive Order 13768 to require all federal, state and local government to comply with ICE detainers, Sonoma County still denied detainers.

Sonoma County fires have killed dozens. 172 are still missing and 102,000 residents have been dislocated — about one-fifth of the entire population. The latest financial losses include 3,819 unincorporated parcels with 100 structures valued at $2,016,962,239, and 2,907 homes and 86 commercial units lost in the city of Santa Rosa valued at $1.18 billion.


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