Three dangerous inmates are still at large after breaking out of a maximum-security jail in California on Friday—and authorities now suspect the escape had been planned for months. Authorities believe the men broke out of the Orange County Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana soon after the 5am head count, giving them a 16-hour head start, the AP reports. The inmates, who had somehow obtained tools, went through a hole in the wall behind some beds in a 68-man dorm and had to cut through steel bars while making their way through the building's plumbing system, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities say they made it to the roof and used a makeshift rope to rappel down four stories to freedom, still wearing their orange prison jumpsuits.
"I can tell you that this is a very sophisticated-looking operation," says Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, per the AP. "People in jail have a lot of time to sit around and think about ways to defeat our systems." The three inmates—Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43—were charged with violent crimes, including murder, in unrelated cases. Hutchens says there's no sign that they have left the country, and the reward for information leading to their recapture is now $50,000, the Orange County Register reports. Authorities are investigating whether jail employees or prisoners aided the escape, the AP reports. They suspect a fight at 8pm Friday may have been planned to delay the evening head count. (Read more California stories.)