Law enforcement officers from throughout the region continue to search for Daniel Lopez Zavala, who escaped from the San Benito County Jail early Tuesday morning, authorities said. The sheriff’s office is asking the public to keep an eye out and call 911 if anyone sees him.

The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office said investigators think Zavala may have been picked up by a motorist on Airway Drive, a short distance from the jail. Anyone who sees Zavala should use “extreme caution” due to his criminal history, the sheriff’s office added. 

Daniel Lopez Zavala

Zavala was last seen wearing a brown jail shirt, orange jail pants and black shoes, according to the sheriff’s office. Zavala is about 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 190 pounds, with short black hair and brown eyes. He is 37 years old, with a birthdate of Nov. 18, 1985. 

About 1:53am May 28, Zavala escaped from the jail, located at 710 Flynn Road, by climbing over a sally port fence while doing janitorial work, authorities said. The fence was topped with barbed wire, but Zavala still managed to scale the barrier. 

Jail staff saw him jump the fence and immediately called emergency dispatch, the sheriff’s office said. Three deputies arrived at the jail within one minute and attempted to set up a perimeter. The deputies called for help with the perimeter, and Hollister Police as well as K9 units from the sheriff’s office and California Highway Patrol arrived shortly after. 

Additional officers and resources from area law enforcement—including a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s drone operator—arrived as authorities proceeded with a search of the area surrounding the jail, the sheriff’s office said. 

The K9 dogs picked up on Zavala’s scent about 3:30am, and found his discarded pants in a field, authorities said. The dogs tracked the smell to the area of the 1800 block of Airway Drive, where they lost the scent. Investigators think Zavala was picked up by someone in a vehicle near that location. 

Officers from local and regional public safety agencies—including the Coastguard air unit, CAL FIRE and Monterey County SWAT—were wrapping up their search of the immediate area as of later afternoon May 28. 

Authorities are still “actively searching” for Zavala, the sheriff’s office said in a press release. 

“(We) will continue to utilize all leads and technology to track and apprehend him and anyone who is assisting him,” says the press release. “We do not believe there is a specific threat to the public; however, due to his extensive criminal history we are extremely motivated and determined to get him into custody quickly.” 

Zavala has tattoos on his chest—one depicting “San Benito County” and another “Hollis,” authorities added. He also has tattoos on his right and left arms and shoulders, with skulls and portraits of females. Additional tattoos include “ESN” on his upper back, “Alexia” on his right abdomen and “Amaya” on his left abdomen. 

The escapee is known to frequent addresses in Hollister, and he associates with “Northern gang members,” the sheriff’s office said. 

Zavala had not been sentenced at the time of his escape. The current charges against Zavala, according to the sheriff’s office, include resisting a peace officer, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, felony gun charges, child cruelty, parole violation, domestic violence and other misdemeanors. 

Previous criminal charges against Zavala date back to 2002, the sheriff’s office added. 

If anyone sees Zavala, they should call 911 or the sheriff’s office at 831.636.4080, authorities said. Sightings can also be reported via TEXT-A-TIP to 888777 by typing TIP SBCSO followed by your message.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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