NEWS

Inmates' Cellphone Video Documents Escape From Max-Security Jail

Video shows them smoking pot, drinking whiskey and walking on a beach after sawing through steel bars.

28/07/2017 5:29 AM AEST | Updated 28/07/2017 5:33 AM AEST

A trio of inmates filmed their high-profile escape from a maximum-security jail in Southern California in January of 2016 using a contraband cellphone, a newly released video shows.

The edited video, obtained by local media, shows Adam Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong carrying out their brazen escape and documents part of their time on the loose, during which they allegedly took a taxi driver hostage, headed to Northern California, smoked pot, drank whiskey and walked on a beach.

The video, released by an attorney for Nayeri on Wednesday, criticizes the lax security at the Orange County Men’s Central jail in Santa Ana.

KTLA/Salvatore Ciulla
One of the inmates is seen removing a vent and crawling through.

“You know, a lot of people like to credit us with some Houdini escape act all in eight minutes flat. It’s an interesting myth,” says a man speaking in the video who identifies himself as Nayeri.

Instead, the video shows how they pre-planned their escape over time, in certain cases sawing steel bars and strategically placing them back into position for later removal.

Nayeri gloats that it took hours for guards to realize they were missing. By then, the men had shimmied through a wall vent, made their way to the facility’s roof and scaled down a wall using makeshift rope. The men, who took selfies throughout their escape, went on to enjoy about a week on the run, making nationwide news.

KTLA/Salvatore Ciulla
Video shows the escapees drinking Jack Daniels and smoking marijuana while they were on the loose.

“This is our casa right now for the moment, this is our crib,” a man says while filming inside a utility van. The vehicle appears to be the one that they were reported as stealing in San Francisco.

“No, we don’t have crack; we don’t have crystal math,” the man behind the camera continues. We’re smoking weed and eating bananas. No, we’re not doing the crazy things they’re saying,” 

Nayeri, who is seen holding a marijuana pipe, tells the camera: “We are not killing anyone, we’re not kidnapping anyone. We’re just going to pass time.”

On the night of their escape the men called a cab in Santa Ana and they allegedly kidnapped Vietnamese taxi driver Long Hoang Ma. The cabbie later filed a $2 million lawsuit against Orange County over the terrifying ordeal, during which he said the men repeatedly discussed whether to kill him.

Handout . / Reuters
Inmates Jonathan Tieu, Adam Hossein Nayeri, and Bac Duong, spent about a week on the run in early 2016.

 

Before their escape, Nayeri was being held on aggravated mayhem, kidnapping and torture charges. Tieu was being held on gang-related murder and attempted-murder charges, while Duong was held for attempted murder.

Nayeri and Tieu were captured in San Francisco on Jan. 30, while Duong had turned himself in a day earlier after having driven back to Southern California with the cabbie.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, responding to the video’s release in a statement, said it contained nothing that wasn’t already known and supplied “verbally” to the media.

“We will not provide additional comment on a video narrative that seeks to make light of criminal actions,” the department said.

After the men’s escape, nearly $570,000 was spent to “harden” the jail, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Mark Stichter told The Orange County Register.

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