SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan. 28 (UPI) — Five people were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly helping in the escape of three inmates from a Southern California jail.
The names were not released, but Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said at a press conference the five are believed to be part of a group that aided in the escape of the three inmates Friday night. Hutchens said more arrests are likely over the next 48 hours.
“Some of them knew these individuals, some of them are either on probation or have warrants,” Hutchens said of the five arrested. Not all five are gang members, however investigators are focused on a Vietnamese gang operating in the area. Two of the fugitives are known Vietnamese gang members.
While about 250 law enforcement personnel are searching for Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, the investigation is also looking into whether the three had help from inside the maximum security Orange County Central Men’s Jail.
The three fugitives — who cut through steel bars, squeezed through plumbing ducts and rappelled off the roof — are described as “armed and dangerous” and have not been spotted since their Friday escape.
Nayeri is considered the likely mastermind of the escape, Hutchens said. He is charged with the 2012 torture of a licensed marijuana dealer with a blowtorch and cutting off his penis. He was arrested in Prague in 2013 and had been at the jail since 2014.
Tieu was charged with murder, attempted murder and street terrorism and been at the jail since Oct. 2013. Duong with attempted murder, burglary and other charges and an inmate there since December.
Nayeri and Tieu are U.S. citizens but Duong was due to be deported back to Vietnam until the country refused to take him.
A deputy district attorney on Monday described Nayeri as “diabolical,” comparing him to Hannibal Lecter from the movie Silence of the Lambs, but the District Attorney’s Office afterward said those comments were “inappropriate, uninformed and rash.”
A $200,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the fugitives.
There have been 16 escapes from the jail since it was built in 1968.