Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Tien Duong are all wanted after escaping from the Central Jail in Santa Ana, California.

All three men are accused of violent crimes and the escape is the first from the facility in more than 20 years, and only the third in its history.

The FBI and local authorities are offering a $50,000 reward, up from $20,000 offered previously, for information leading to the capture of the three men.

Jail officials realized the men were unaccounted for at 9 p.m. Friday night. They had last been seen early that morning.

It’s believed the inmates cut through 1/2-inch steel bars and then went through plumbing tunnels to an unsecured area of the jail’s roof. They then pushed razor wire out of their way and rappelled to the ground using a makeshift rope. They fled on foot, and it’s unknown if they had any help from outside the jail.

Officials believe the escape was planned out for weeks, or even months.

“This was clearly a well-thought out and planned escape,” Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock told reporters.

“We have several counts throughout the 24-hour period. We have two, what we call, physical body counts – where they physically count the bodies and match them to our record cards,” Hallock said. He said they confirmed the escape at midnight.

He also says a fight might have been staged to help aid in their escape.

“It appears, based on that disturbance and the timing of things, that that may have been part of the planning process, but again we’re still very early in the investigation,” he said.

“We are utilizing every resource available to ensure these inmates are brought back into custody as quickly as possible. As Sheriff, my utmost concern and primary responsibility is the safety of each Orange County resident,” Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said in a message to the community. “I take this situation very seriously and the men and woman of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will not rest until all three men are captured.”

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Orange County Probation Office, the U.S. Marshals, and the FBI are all assisting the department in the search.

“If you see one or more of them, immediately call 9-1-1. If you have information pertaining to their whereabouts, call our Hotline at 714-628-7085. Please share and continue to help us in bringing these fugitives back into custody,” the sheriff’s department said Sunday.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 37 years, always working for sheriff’s departments that manage jails. And escapes do occur from time to time,” Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told the Los Angeles Times. “We try and limit that. We learn from the mistakes. I can tell you that this is a very sophisticated-looking operation. People in jail have a lot of time to sit around and think about ways to defeat our systems.”


37-year-old Hossein Nayeri was arrested in September of 2014, charged with kidnapping for ransom, aggravated mayhem, torture and burglary. He pleaded not guilty.

He’s accused of helping two friends break into a Newport Beach, California home owned by a marijuana dispensary owner in 2012, kidnapping him, and taking him to the Mojave Desert with the mistaken belief that he’d buried money there. The three friends then allegedly cut off his penis.They drove off with his penis so it couldn’t be reattached, according to authorities.

“The defendants are accused of brutally torturing this victim, they were beating him, they used a blowtorch to burn him,” Orange County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Farrah Emami said back in 2014.

Nayeri then fled to Iran, but was captured in Prague, Czech Republic, and extradited back to California.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

20-year-old Jonathan Tieu had been in custody since October of 2013 when he was arrested on charges of murder, shooting at an inhabited home, attempted murder, and street terrorism. The case is gang-related.

He was being held on $1 million bail. No further details about the accusations against are currently available.

43-year-old Bac Tien Doung was being held without bail on charges of attempted murder, burglary, firearms violations, and “sentencing enhancements” for attempted premeditated murder and inflicting great bodily harm. He’d been arrested on December 4, 2015 and pleaded not guilty.

He was being held without bail because of an immigration hold. Details of that case are likewise not currently available.