Crime and Safety

Police conducting an investigation into Vegas bombmaker’s prison break

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Authorities are investigating how a convicted bombmaker was able to escape from a Nevada prison without anyone noticing for four days, until a tip led to his apprehension at a Las Vegas transit station Wednesday evening as he prepared to catch a bus out of town.

State prisons officials did not discover that Porfirio Duarte-Herrera had escaped from the medium-security jail where he was serving a life sentence for a 2007 explosion outside a Las Vegas Strip hotel until Tuesday.

Wednesday night, authorities in Las Vegas received word that a person matching Duarte-description Herrera’s was in the area. According to the department, officers brought the individual into custody, confirmed his identity as Duarte-Herrera, 42, and detained him.

Thursday at a press conference, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo stated that the rules, procedures, and all the errors that occurred between Friday and Tuesday must be rectified.

Lombardo, a Republican seeking to oust Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak in November’s election, said he was urging Sisolak to follow through on his promise to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that the incident does not occur again.

Infrastructure difficulties and jail system staffing issues are of considerable concern to me, the law enforcement community as a whole, and the society at large, he said.

Lombardo, the U.S. Marshall for Nevada and an FBI special agent, stated that his capture was the result of the cooperation of several law enforcement agencies, substantial media coverage, and a tip from the public.

Lombardo stated, “In this instance, the guy had a four-day head start.” “Fortunately and sadly, he remained in the vicinity, and we were able to catch him with public aid.”

Lombardo told reporters on Thursday that any information regarding the escape itself must come from the Department of Corrections, “and hopefully they will provide you with information regarding the circumstances of the escape in the near future.” Lombardo responded affirmatively when asked by a reporter if DOC had been invited to participate in the joint law enforcement news conference.

Thursday, department officials did not reply quickly to demands for comment.

Sisolak launched an investigation into the escape when his office learnt that Duarte-Herrera had been absent since the beginning of the weekend, as he stated late Tuesday.

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Thursday, the governor’s office said he is working immediately with Department of Corrections Director Charles Daniels “to ensure swift action is done to address the conduct that led to the escape.”

“When public safety is at issue, it is inexcusable to disregard protocols and procedures. Beyond this instance, fixing larger-scale staffing deficiencies remains the governor’s top goal, according to his communications director, Meghin Delaney.

She stated, “Correctional facilities around the nation are experiencing staffing shortages, and the NDOC is exploring innovative strategies to enhance recruiting at all facilities in this state.”

Tuesday morning, during a head check at Southern Desert Correctional Center outside Las Vegas, officials realized he was missing.

Neither Lombardo nor Sisolak would comment on a KLAS-TV allegation citing unidentified sources claiming Duarte-Herrera used acid to degrade the area guarding his cell window so that he could escape. According to the story, he also constructed a cardboard mannequin for his cell and sewed a coat in a prison class, which he carried with him following his escape. Officials investigated whether he had a partner in crime.

Lombardo stated that he had a conversation with the inspector general’s office at the Department of Corrections, “and I am certain that they will investigate and deploy resources to avoid this from occurring in the future.”

Nicaraguan national Duarte-Herrera was convicted in 2010 of murdering a hot dog vendor by placing a motion-activated device in a coffee cup atop a parked automobile at the Luxor hotel-casino.

According to the records, Omar Rueda-Denvers, his co-defendant, remains in detention. The 47-year-old Guatemalan is serving a life term for murder, attempted murder, explosives, and other offences at a different Nevada jail.

In the murder of Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio, who was identified by prosecutors as the lover of Rueda-Denvers’ ex-girlfriend, a Clark County District Court jury spared both men the death penalty.

The top level of a two-story parking facility was attacked, according to the prosecution, out of envy. The explosion prompted immediate worries of a terrorist attack in the Strip.

Gary Schofield, the United States Marshal for Nevada, stated that investigators were still investigating where Duarte-Herrera was and what he did between his escape and when he was dropped off near the transit hub.

“He was able to obtain a small amount of money and a small amount of transportation from that area alone…. “He avoided the public and police enforcement by becoming inconspicuous,” he explained.

Tuesday afternoon, Schofield’s office was told of the escape by a regional task team of the U.S. Marshals Service stationed in Los Angeles, which had been notified of the breakout by state correctional officials.

“That was the first time any Nevada authorities were aware of what was happening at the prison,” he explained.

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