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Convicted murderer and another inmate escaped Transport Van CAUGHT
A convicted murderer and another inmate with a violent past escaped while being transferred to a New Mexico prison, prompting a manhunt, authorities said Thursday.

Inmates Joseph Cruz, 32, and Lionel Clah, 29, were taken from the Penitentiary of New Mexico in a van toward the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility when they fled, the New Mexico Corrections Department said in a statement Thursday.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the men may have escaped between Roswell, New Mexico, and Las Cruces, the department said.

Image: Lionel Clah, right, and Joseph Cruz
Lionel Clah, right, and Joseph Cruz escaped while being transported to a New Mexico prison. New Mexico Department of Corrections

The inmates were last accounted for around 8:30 p.m. MST on Wednesday as Cruz, Clah and three other inmates were being transported between facilities in Roswell and Las Cruces, according to the Associated Press.

It appeared that corrections officers in charge of transporting the men did not check on the prisoners during the two stops, New Mexico Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel told the AP.

"Somehow we failed," Marcantel said. "We just don't have the detail at this point."

Cruz was sentenced to prison in Nov. 2006 for first-degree murder, attempted murder in the first degree and child abuse, according to the Corrections Department. Clah was convicted in April 2009 of armed robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and assault with intent to commit a violent felony upon a peace officer.

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