Police have arrested five suspected gang members in connection with the escape of three prisoners last week from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The fugitives, however, remain at large. When announcing the arrests Wednesday, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens did not identify the men or say what charges they face, the Los Angeles Times reports. She did say, according to the Orange County Register, that more arrests were expected overnight and into Thursday, adding that there's a possibility guards or other jail employees may have provided "inside help" to the escapees. Since the Friday escape, deputies have served some 30 warrants, ABC7 reports. A $200,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the escapees.
More from Hutchens' press conference:
- Those arrested in connection to the escape were affiliated with the same street gang as 20-year-old fugitive Jonathan Tieu, knew the escaped inmates, or were arrested on probation violations.
- Hutchens believes Hossein Nayeri, 37, was the "mastermind" of the escape.
- Authorities have not recovered the tools used, and Hutchens believes the escapees would have needed help getting their hands on them. ("It's not something we think could have occurred with a jail-made shank, if you will.")
"It's every sheriff's nightmare," Hutchens said of the escape, which has sparked criticism over how inmates are housed at the nearly 50-year-old jail. Nayeri, Tieu, and Bac Duong, 43, were not noticed missing for some 16 hours. Hutchens says she has made changes to the way inmates are counted throughout the day, per the Register
. She also defended the decision to house the escapees in a dormitory instead of individual cells
, the Times
reports. "We house based on behavior, and there were no issues … while they were in our custody," she says.