Daniel Lopez Zavala, who escaped from the San Benito County Jail on May 28, was arrested in San Jose Wednesday night following a regional manhunt, authorities said. 

Zavala, 38, of Hollister, was arrested 7pm May 29 at a hotel in San Jose with his girlfriend, Luz Mendoza, 31, according to San Benito County Sheriff Eric Taylor. Mendoza is accused of helping Zavala escape from the jail and flee the area. 

Daniel Lopez Zavala

Police tracked Zavala to the San Jose hotel by following an investigative lead, Taylor said. 

Taylor said in a May 29 video posted to social media that authorities think more people helped Zavala escape from the Flynn Road jail early Tuesday morning, and investigators know those subjects’ identities. 

Zavala allegedly escaped from the San Benito County Jail about 1:53am May 28 by climbing over an eight-foot fence topped with barbed wire. Zavala was doing janitorial work in the jail yard just before he escaped. 

Jail staff were present as they saw Zavala scale the fence, and immediately called emergency dispatch, according to the sheriff’s office. Law enforcement personnel and resources from multiple agencies—including K9 tracking dogs—arrived at the area but were unable to find Zavala during a search of the area surrounding the jail. 

Authorities think Zavala fled in a vehicle after running on foot to the area of the 1800 block of Airway Drive before 3:30am May 28. 

Taylor said in the May 29 video that his office is “working on internal security measures to do everything we can to prevent this from reoccurring in the future.” Taylor added that the sheriff’s office could not have found Zavala without help from outside agencies, which he thanked in his statement. 

The sheriff added that he is working with San Benito County Board of Supervisors Chair Angela Curro to “look into staffing in our office.” 

Curro did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment. 

Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki, in a May 28 statement, called for an investigation into what happened at the jail before the escape occurred. Kosmicki also pushed back on the claim that the escape might have occurred due to a shortage of staffing at the jail. 

“The sheriff has acknowledged there were staff members present when this escape occurred, so it’s vitally important to learn what jail staff protocols were or weren’t followed that led to this incident,” Kosmicki said. “This should be the focus in the aftermath of this escape, not staffing levels during budget deliberations.”

Kosmicki added that the board of supervisors “has been very supportive” of the sheriff’s office over the years, and noted that there are currently eight vacant correctional officer positions in the county for which funding is available. 

“I am also calling for an outside investigation into what happened at the jail and why this inmate escaped so easily while staff was reportedly present,” Kosmicki added. 

Zavala was an unsentenced inmate at the San Benito County Jail, where he was being housed on charges that include resisting a peace officer, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, felony gun charges, child cruelty and a parole violation, according to the sheriff’s office. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.