Arrests made in connection with 3 OC escaped inmates, sheriff says

ByGabrielle Moreira KABC logo
Thursday, January 28, 2016
5 arrests made in connection with 3 OC escaped inmates
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Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said five arrests have been made in connection with three inmates who escaped the Orange County Central Men's Jail.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said five arrests were made Wednesday in connection with three inmates who escaped the Orange County Central Men's Jail.

Hutchens did not say what was the connection to the inmates, but said authorities are hitting area gang members, specifically a Vietnamese gang in Westminster and Garden Grove. During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, she said more arrests would be made in the evening and into Thursday morning.

MORE: Reward rises to $200,000 in Orange County jail escape

No further details on the connected arrests were released so as not to compromise the investigation.

Jonathan Tieu, 20, Bac Duong, 43, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, were all awaiting trial for various violent crimes before they escaped the jail on Friday.

The trio were last accounted for at 5 a.m. and their disappearance wasn't noticed until 16 hours later when an evening count was conducted. Hutchens said five counts are conducted at the jail throughout the day.

WATCH: Eyewitness News gets exclusive look at inmates' elaborate escape route

When Hutchens first discovered the escape, she said it was "every sheriff's nightmare."

"I am troubled by the amount of time it took for us to discover that three inmates from our maximum-security jail were unaccounted for for such a long period of time," Hutchens said.

As a result of the escape, Hutchens said the department is looking into the policies and procedures conducted at the jail to prevent any future attempts.

She added that she, along with other investigators, believe the inmates escaped with help from outside of the jail. Investigators are also looking into whether there was any help from inside the facility.

MORE: Photos show evidence connected to inmates' escape from OC jail

A photo of the exterior of the Orange County Central Men's Jail, which was built in 1968 and currently houses over 900 male inmates.
Orange County Sheriff's Department

Hutchens said she believes Nayeri, who faces charges such as kidnapping and torture, is the mastermind behind the elaborate escape plan based on his military background.

Nayeri had been in custody since September 2014 after he had been extradited back into the U.S. from Iran. During a court hearing that same month, prosecutors suspected Nayeri broke into a marijuana dispensary owner's Newport Beach home, kidnapped the man, tortured him and severed his penis.

Tieu, who is a documented gang member, faces charges for murder and attempted murder among other charges. He was held on a $1 million bail and had been in custody since October 2013.

New images of Duong, another documented gang member, and his tattoos were released during the press conference to further assist the public in identifying him.

Authorities released new images of Bac Duong, 43, and his tattoos on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.
Authorities released new images of Bac Duong, 43, and his tattoos on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.

Duong faced charges for crimes such as attempted murder and possession of a firearm. He was arrested in December 2015 and held without bail due to an immigration hold. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were unable to deport Duong because his country of origin would not accept him, according to Hutchens.

Authorities said the inmates cut through 1/2-inch-thick steel bars and plumbing tunnels to gain access to the unsecured roof, which is used for recreational purposes. There, all three men used sheets to rappel to the ground and flee on foot.

Hutchens said she and investigators believe the tools were professional and not made in jail because of the clean incisions made to the steel bars.

MORE: Tips from Vietnamese community sought in search for 3 escaped inmates

Since Friday, sheriff's deputies served at least 30 warrants in the investigation into their escape. A $200,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the inmates' arrests.

Anyone with information on the inmates' whereabouts was urged to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department hotline at (714)628-7085. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (855) 847-6227.

ABC7 reporters Eileen Frere and Greg Lee contributed to this report.