SANTA ANA, Calif. (Reuters) - Authorities have made five arrests in connection with the jailhouse breakout of three maximum-security inmates, one of them a convicted killer wanted for the mutilation torture of a kidnap victim, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said on Wednesday.
She said the inmates who escaped on Friday remain at large, but that individuals linked to them have been taken into custody as sheriff's deputies focus their investigation on street gang members tied to the three fugitives.
She said additional arrests were expected to be made later on Wednesday and on Thursday.
Hutchens, whose department runs the county jail system, did not specify the alleged connection the five people arrested have to the fugitives or what charges they may face but suggested they are suspected of assisting in the escape from outside the jail.
One of the escapees, Hossein Nayeri, 37, had been jailed in Orange County since he being extradited to California from Prague in 2013 after fleeing to Iran to avoid kidnapping and torture charges. In that case, the victim was burned with a blowtorch and his penis was cut off, though he survived.
Nayeri escaped the jail five days ago with two other inmates, both reputed to be connected with Vietnamese-American street gangs: Jonathan Tieu, 20, who is charged with murder, and Bac Duong, 43, charged with attempted murder.
"He was most probably the mastermind behind this," Hutchens said of Nayeri's role in the escape, adding that he was considered more sophisticated than the two others.
(Reporting by Tori Richards in Santa Ana; Writing and additional reporting in Los Angeles by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)