Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Ismael Cesda, 21, was found at about 1:30 a.m. at a large apartment complex on Fremont Boulevard in Fremont. Cesda tried to run away but didn't get far and was arrested after a brief struggle, Nelson said.
Cesda escaped from the jail Tuesday night after he returned from the Fremont courthouse. Jail staff realized that he was missing at about 11 p.m. that night after a head count.
Nelson said the sheriff's gang unit, with the help of the Fremont Police Department's gang unit, had been "diligently pursuing" Cesda after he escaped.
He said investigators contacted all of Cesda's known associates and found him through those associates.
During the course of their investigation, officers arrested seven of Cesda's associates on unrelated charges, including for possession of narcotics and being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Nelson said.
He said authorities don't believe that Cesda is an active gang member but they believe some of his friends are involved in gangs.
The associates who were arrested in the course of the investigation "are known to the gang unit," Nelson said.
Cesda, a Pleasanton resident, was arrested in Fremont on Saturday night on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle and evading police, Fremont police Detective Bill Veteran said.
Cesda and five other people, including three juveniles, led Fremont police on a car chase in a Toyota Highlander that had been reported stolen by Dublin Toyota, Veteran said.
The Highlander ran into a curb near Fremont Boulevard and Thornton Avenue, and all six suspects ran away from the scene, he said.
The police arrested all of them, and the three juveniles were released into the custody of adult family members. The three adults, including Cesda, were booked into the Fremont City Jail before being transferred to the Santa Rita Jail, Veteran said.
However, Nelson said no stolen vehicle charges were filed against Cesda and he was simply being held for an immigration violation.
Nelson said Cesda was able to escape by taking advantage of his classification as a minimum inmate and was part of a large group of inmates in the same category who were being supervised by fewer deputies than normal because of county budget cuts.
Nelson said that even though the sheriff's office staffing is less than ideal, the escape "shouldn't have happened" and a preliminary investigation indicates that Cesda got away due to human error.
He said it's "unacceptable" and "embarrassing" that Cesda was able to walk away and the department is taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Cesda told deputies that he left the jail because he didn't want to get deported to Mexico, Nelson said.