Escape leads to changes at jail

Eight inmates escaped the Curry County Adult Detention Center on Sunday night. As of Tuesday evening five of those inmates remained at large.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Multiple law enforcement agencies continued Tuesday evening to pursue leads on the whereabouts of five escaped Curry County inmates, according to Sheriff Matt Murray.

Law enforcement believes at least some of the escapees are still in the Clovis area, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.

Federal agencies including the FBI, Border Patrol and U.S. Marshal’s Office are involved and law enforcement across New Mexico and into West Texas are on alert.

Convicted killer Edward Salas, 21, and 19-year-old Larry McClendon Jr., who is charged with murder, are among the escapees.

Michael England, 29, Victor Sotelo, 26, and Louis Chavez, 19, also remain at large.

All five are charged with violent crimes.

Chandler said officials believe England and McClendon are likely together.

Sunday night, eight inmates shimmied up pipes and slipped through a hole they had cut in the roof of the jail using handmade tools.

Victor Apodaca was captured around 9:45 p.m. Sunday by police officers who spotted him and another male wearing orange jumpsuits running near the jail.

Raynaldo Enriquez, 19, was captured around 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Lubbock area, and Javier Zapata, 19, was captured about 11:15 p.m. in Cactus, Texas.

Both Monday night arrests occurred without incident, Chandler said.

The eight who escaped were housed in Pod 1 at the jail, considered the maximum security pod, officials have said.

Chandler said based on reviews of security footage it is clear other residents of the pod knew about the escape attempt.

“There weren’t that many inmates in there that didn’t know,” he said.

The pod has since been cleared and the remaining prisoners relocated to other areas in the jail. Chandler said he is not sure the exact number of inmates that were in Pod 1 at the time of the escape.

Chandler said officials plan to release a portion of surveillance footage showing the escape Wednesday and will also allow reporters to tour the pod and view the escape route.

Chandler said there are two investigations occurring simultaneously — one to recapture the inmates, and another to determine what occurred at the jail, he said.

At a morning County Commission meeting, interim jail administrator Audrey Barriga told commissioners the, “facility’s on lockdown, has been and will be.”

Escapees returned to the jail are being housed in holding areas on lockdown. “They’ll have no room for movement,” she said.

County Manager Lance Pyle, whose office oversees the jail, said Barriga remains the administrator of the jail and is being assisted by sheriff’s Deputy Keith Bessette in investigating the escape.

Pyle said he has brought in a consultant who is an expert in jail management to asses the facility and issue a report and has also asked state police for an assessment of issues at the jail.

“I am reviewing policies and procedures and I’m assessing the situation,” he said.

“I have identified areas that will be improved. Next week I’ll have more information on what those changes are and what I’m going to do to get those implemented,” he said.

Pyle said some changes have already been implemented in the creation of an advisory board consisting of law enforcement and jail administrators.

The five who remain at large:

Victor Sotelo, 26, 5-foot-3 inches, 135 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. He has a tattoo on his stomach that reads “SHORTY.”

He faces pending charges for aggravated assault.

Last known address: 2193 S. Roosevelt Road 6, Portales.

Place of birth: Clovis

Larry McClendon Jr., 19, 6-foot-1 inch, 152 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. He faces pending murder and aggravated robbery charges.

Officials have said they believe McClendon and a codefendant shot Emmett Salisbury in January 2007 while attempting to rob him of money and drugs.

Police believe McClendon and escapee Michael England may be traveling together.

Last known address: 4201 Dimmitt Road, Plainview, Texas.

Place of birth: New Mexico

Michael England, 29, 5-foot-7 inches, 130 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. He has a tattoo on his back — “Only God Can Judge Me,” a tattoo on his right forearm — “South” — and a tattoo on his left forearm: “Side.”

He faces pending charges for tampering with evidence and felon in possession of a firearm related to the 2007 shooting death of Emmett Salisbury.

Police believe England and escapee Larry McClendon may be traveling together.

Last known address: 209 Redwood St., Clovis

Place of birth: San Antonio

Edward Salas, 21, 5-foot-5 inches, 180 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes. He has a tattoo on his back — “SALAS” — and a tattoo on his right arm: “LISA.”

Salas was convicted of murder on April 11, sentenced last month to a minimum of 68 years in prison and was awaiting transfer to the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

He is one of three brothers convicted in the Sept. 15, 2005, shooting death of 10-year-old Carlos Perez.

Last known address: 3104 Smith Ave.

Place of birth: New Mexico

Louis Chavez, 18, 5-foot-2 inches, 177 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. He has a tattoo on his chest that reads “FEAR NONE.”

Chavez is charged with aggravated burglary, larceny, criminal damage to property, receiving or disposing of stolen property, tampering with evidence and extreme cruelty to animals.

Last known address: 1031 Laberton, Albuquerque

Place of birth: New Mexico