Investigators reached out to the public Monday in an effort to track down information on three inmates, two of whom are believed to have gang ties, after their escape over the weekend from an Orange County jail.
More than 30 search warrants have been served since the manhunt began Friday after Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, were discovered missing from the Orange County Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana. The three men likely cut through steel bars and plumbing ducts before climbing to the roof and rappelling down several stories using a rope.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department conducted a news conference Monday to ask for help from the public hours before prosecutors announced that the men face new charges connected with the escape even as they are on the run.
"I really want to emphasize the important role of the public," said Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Hallock. "Look at these pictures. We know that somebody out there knows something."
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said Sunday there have been no sightings of the fugitives and there is no reason to believe the inmates have left the country. The warrants served since the escapes were served at homes and on electronic devices, such as phones and computers.
Hutchens said it was believed the inmates had tools to get through three secured areas in the jail and described the escape as a highly "sophisticated operation." Sheriff's officials released images and surveillance video of evidence connected to the escape of the three inmates, including photos of a rope believed to have been used in the escape.
All three men are considered dangerous, authorities said.
"We understand you're in danger, we understand you're fearful, that you may be fearful about coming forward with information about where these individuals are located," said Lt. Dave Sawyer, of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Nayeri, who had been in custody since September 2014, faces charges of kidnapping, torture, burglary and aggravated mayhem. He is accused of torturing the victim, a marijuana dispensary owner, burning him with a blow torch and cutting off his penis, Sawyer said.
Nayeri and two other assailants believed the man was hiding money in the desert, according to investigators. The victim survived the attack after being dumped in the desert, Sawyer said.
Nayeri was being held without bail.
Tieu faces charges for murder, attempted murder, and shooting at an inhabited dwelling. His case is believed to be gang-related. He had been held on a $1 million bond since October 2013. Tieu was set to be arraigned in March for his second murder trial. His first case ended in a mistrial.
Duong, who is ineligible for bail due to an immigration hold, had been in custody since December 2015 on charges of possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property, vehicle theft, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and shooting an at inhabited dwelling. He also is associated with a Vietnamese gang, Sawyer said. According to court records, Duong has a criminal past that goes back 20 years. He did time in San Diego and Orange County.
In November, authorities said he shot at a house and tried to kill a man. He's been inside Men's Central Jail since November.
Tieu and Duong might be "embedded" with the Vietnamese community in the area, sheriff's investigators said.
"We need the community to realize what a danger they present," said Sawyer. "Specifically, in the Vietnamese community, there is fear that exists."
The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a $30,000 reward — $10,000 for each inmate and the FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to their arrest, the sheriff’s department said.
Anyone who sees any of the suspects should call 911 immediately, and anyone with information regarding their possible whereabouts was urged to call a special hotline at 714-628-7085.
Residents were on high alert ever since the news of the inmate escape broke.