SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com/AP) — As authorities continue the search for three inmates who escaped from a maximum-security prison in Santa Ana, Orange County’s Board of Supervisors approved raising the reward for information leading to their capture to $200,000 Tuesday.
And sources late Tuesday told CBS2/KCAL9 News that sheriff’s investigators detained a man suspected as an accomplice Monday. They say he threw a backpack filled with tools over the jail wall, aiding in Friday’s escape.READ MORE: Man, 30, Fatally Shot In Long Beach; Motive Unknown
The sources says the suspect is a member of a violent Vietnamese gang.
Sheriff’s officials could not confirm whether anyone has been detained in the escapes.
For many years, grand juries that report on the Orange County Men’s Central Jail have cited problems with the security camera system and have called for change, according to CBS2’s Kara Finnstrom.
In the 2014-2015 report, jurors stated: “Previous grand juries have found that all the adult jails have had inadequate video surveillance equipment. [The] upgrade had not been completed due to lack of financial resources.”
State officials also report there has been a total of 15 rooftop escapes during the jail’s 47 years in operation.
The jail break committed by Jonathan Tieu, 20, Bac Duong, 43, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, from the facility was far from original, according to the Orange County Register.
On Friday, the trio of fugitives obtained tools that allowed them to cut through the quarter-inch-thick grill on a dormitory wall, then got into plumbing tunnels.
After cutting their way through additional half-inch-thick steel bars, the men made their way to an unguarded area of the roof of the four-story building and used makeshift ropes they created from bed sheets to repel down the side of the jail facility and escape from the complex.
The escape wasn’t noticed for 16 hours, until a nighttime head count that was delayed about an hour because of a fight involving some other inmates that may — or may not — have been part of the escape plan.
It was the first escape in nearly three decades from the California facility built in 1968. It holds 900 men.
Lt. Jeff Hallock, Orange County sheriff’s spokesman, said there is no evidence so far that the trio had help from the inside but authorities know it’s a possibility.READ MORE: Need A Holiday Package Delivered By Christmas? Here Are Shipping Deadlines
It’s likely someone slipped them blueprints or told them how the bowels of the jail were laid out, he said.
Thorough searches of dorms likely would have discovered the tools used or damage to the vent grill, he said.
Hallock said the facility’s general policy is to do walk-throughs every hour to check on inmates. More involved searches are done randomly, he said, but declined to be more specific.
It’s also unclear why the inmates — who were charged with violent felonies — were housed in the common dorm with dozens of others. Assignment to a large, busy room likely made it easier for them to avoid detection, said Martin Horn, a professor of corrections at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York.
Investigators are now focused on searching suburban communities where the men could be hiding among friends, family or fellow gang members.
Tieu and Duong have deep ties to the Vietnamese community. Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Sawyer who is leading the investigation, said the two “may be embedded” there.
Tieu had been held on a $1 million bond since October 2013 on charges of murder, attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling in an alleged gang dispute.
Nayeri had been held without bond since September 2014 on charges of kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary. Authorities say he kidnapped a marijuana dealer, burned him with a blow torch and cut off his penis because Nayeri thought the man had buried money in the desert.
“My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, they let Hannibal Lecter out,’ ” prosecutor Heather Brown said during an interview with the Orange County Register. “He is sophisticated, incredibly violent and cunning.”
Duong has been held without bond since last month on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and other counts in the shooting of a man on his front porch.
Tieu, Duong and Nayeri are believed to be dangerous and all were awaiting trial for separate violent felonies, authorities said. They have now each been charged with another felony for the escape.MORE NEWS: 18-Month-Old Baby In Grave Condition After North Hills Hit-And-Run
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