10 arrested, including prison insider, in California jail escape

By Shawn Price  |  Updated Jan. 28, 2016 at 10:34 PM
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SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- 10 people have been arrested over two days, including a prison insider, for allegedly helping in the escape of three inmates from a Southern California jail.

Orange County Sheriffs have arrested the jail's English as a Second Language teacher as the possible insider who might have helped the three inmates escape from the maximum security lock up sometime Friday.

Police have arrested 10 people over the past 48 hours as alleged accomplices. Five were arrested Wednesday and five more on Thursday.

Nooshafarian Ravaghi, 44, worked at the jail for the last six months and allegedly developed a relationship with one of the inmates, 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri. Ravaghi was born and raised in Iran, but traveled much of the world during a youth. She's lived in California since 1997, where she has taught and written children's books.

Lt. Jeffrey Hallock, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department said Ravaghi might have brought them Google maps, which would have shown them what the jail's roof looked like. The inmates rappelled off the roof during their escape. He said investigators think she might have provide actual tools as well.

Hallock said the escapees might have stolen a white GMC utility van Sunday in the South Los Angeles area. "Investigators feel strongly that these inmates may be living out of this vehicle," Hallock said.

The names of the others arrested were not released, but Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said at a press conference Wednesday the five are believed to be part of a group that aided in the escape of the three inmates Friday night. Hutchens said more arrests could follow.

"Some of them knew these individuals, some of them are either on probation or have warrants," Hutchens said of the five arrested. Not all five are gang members, however investigators are focused on a Vietnamese gang operating in the area. Two of the fugitives are known Vietnamese gang members.

Despite the arrests, about 250 law enforcement personnel are still searching for Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43.

The three fugitives -- who cut through steel bars, squeezed through plumbing ducts and rappelled off the roof using rope made from bed sheets -- are described as "armed and dangerous" and have not been spotted since their Friday escape.

Nayeri is considered the likely mastermind of the escape, Hutchens said. He is charged with the 2012 torture of a licensed marijuana dealer with a blowtorch and cutting off his penis. He was arrested in Prague in 2013 and had been at the jail since 2014.

Tieu was charged with murder, attempted murder and street terrorism and been at the jail since Oct. 2013. Duong with attempted murder, burglary and other charges and an inmate there since December.

Nayeri and Tieu are U.S. citizens but Duong was due to be deported back to Vietnam until the country refused to take him.

A deputy district attorney on Monday described Nayeri as "diabolical," comparing him to Hannibal Lecter from the movie Silence of the Lambs, but the District Attorney's Office afterward said those comments were "inappropriate, uninformed and rash."

A $200,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the fugitives.

There have been 16 escapes from the jail since it was built in 1968.

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