Auburn CHP officer behind bars on meth, weapons charges

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn California Highway Patrol officer is under arrest on methamphetamine-possession, weapons-possession and driving-under-the-influence charges. Officer Ruben Cesar Salgado was booked into North Auburn’s Placer County Jail after being arrested in a Rocklin shopping center parking lot Tuesday afternoon. Salgado, 37, was being held on $200,000 bail on a charge of possession of a controlled substance. Salgado is facing several other allegations and is scheduled to be arraigned in Placer County superior court today on nine counts – including possession of a controlled narcotic, possession of drugs while armed and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Six of the charges are felonies, which could result in state prison time. Salgado is scheduled to be arraigned at 1 p.m. today in the North Auburn Placer County Jail courtroom. Chief Steve Lerwill, Valley Division commander, said Wednesday that Salgado had been on the day shift at the Newcastle-based CHP office until 3 p.m. He was arrested an hour later at a shopping center on Rocklin’s Granite Drive in Rocklin. His arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation involving the Highway Patrol and the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, Lerwill said. Salgado is a 12-year veteran of the Highway Patrol and had worked at the Auburn area’s Newcastle office since transferring from the Solano County office in January of last year. As part of arrest procedures, Salgado was placed on administrative leave. The Highway Patrol officers made the arrest, removing a reportedly cooperative Salgado from his late-model Lexus to be taken to jail. Lerwill declined to say how much methamphetamine was found in the arrest, what type of weapon Salgado was armed with or details of what he described as an ongoing investigation. A 31-year Highway Patrol officer, Lerwill said he wants to impress on the public that his office takes the allegations “with the utmost seriousness.” “It’s a disappointment for the agency,” Lerwill said. “In my time, it’s one of the more serious ones (an allegation of a criminal activity by an officer). While the investigation was ongoing, there were no indications to superiors while Salgado was working that he was under the influence of drugs, Lerwill said. And while Salgado was on patrol, his commander did not have the authority to re-assign him to a desk job without a valid reason, he added. The state patrol can order a drug test if there is evidence an officer is under the influence but no drug test was done within the past two months because there was nothing to indicate Salgado was under the influence while at work, the chief said. Speaking at a press conference in the Valley Division command center in Rancho Cordova, Lerwill said investigators did an outstanding job on the case. Asked whether Salgado continued to be on the Highway Patrol payroll while charged with criminal offenses, Lerwill said he wouldn’t comment on whether he was being paid or not. Depending on the situation, Highway Patrol officers on administrative leave can be paid or not paid, he said.