Santa Barbara County Jail employees accused of sexually assaulting inmates


After a lengthy investigation, Santa Barbara County sheriff deputies arrested two jail employees on Friday for allegedly sexually assaulting inmates.

Detectives arrested Salvador Vargas, 34, of Santa Maria at his home and booked him into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony forcible oral copulation, and felony sexual activity with a person in custody. Hired in April 2018, Vargas, a social worker, worked as a discharge planner at the Main Jail.

Gabriel Castro, 47, surrendered to detectives on Friday. He was arrested on charges of felony forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object, and felony sexual activity with a person in custody. Hired in July 2002, Castro worked as a custody deputy at the Main Jail.

In August 2018, an inmate reported they had  been sexually assaulted. Detectives then mounted an investigation into Vargas and Castro, and a group of intertwined victims.

Salvador Vargas

A month later, the sheriff placed Vargas and Castro on administrative leave.

“The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to thoroughly investigating allegations of misconduct by employees and does not tolerate the victimization of inmates who are entrusted in our care,” according to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office. “The alleged actions of these employees violate the Core Values of the Sheriff’s Office, in addition to the law, and are intolerable.”

Investigators are asking anyone with additional information about these allegations to call investigators at (805) 681-4150.