Alleged getaway driver for 2 New Mexico inmates now arrested

AP News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2016 9:31 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A man who allegedly drove two escaped inmates from southeastern New Mexico to Albuquerque and helped them get their shackles off has been arrested, state police said Friday night.

Jesus S. Quintana, 46, has been booked into jail in Carlsbad on suspicion of two counts each of assisting escape and furnishing articles for a prisoner's escape. It's unclear if he has a lawyer yet.

Police said Quintana allegedly helped Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah and even let them drink some of his beer and drove them to Albuquerque.

Cruz and Clah were apprehended last weekend in Albuquerque after a dayslong manhunt.

Court documents show that one of four women charged with aiding Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah once they arrived in Albuquerque told authorities that Clah said the pair were walking along the road after the escape when a man drove up to them.

State police said they interviewed Clah again Thursday about the escape and he told them a man picked them up in his car on the night of March 9 and drove them to his home near Artesia.

The man had beer in his vehicle and allegedly gave some to the two fugitives, according to State police who said Clah told them the man cut off his handcuffs and shackles along with Cruz's and provided them with clothing, then drove them to Albuquerque.

State police said Quintana was located Friday in Artesia and helped the two escaped prisoners because they agreed to give him money, which he needed since he's unemployed.

Authorities have yet to say how Clah and Cruz were able to slip by two guards as they and three other inmates were being transported to a state prison in southern New Mexico.

Investigators have determined that Cruz and Clah picked their handcuffs with some kind of wire, but they haven't released any details about how the two got out of the van without the guards noticing.

Authorities suspect the escape happened while the guards were fueling up at a gas station in the small community of Artesia.

State police have arrested a total of four women, including Cruz's sister, on charges that they helped the men once they made their way to Albuquerque.