Murderer and Second Felon Escape from Van During Prison Transfer in New Mexico

Murderer and Second Felon Escape from Van During Prison Transfer in New Mexico
Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah
State of New Mexico Corrections Department

03/11/2016 AT 11:30 AM EST

Police are searching for a convicted murderer and a second felon who escaped Wednesday night from a transport van while between moved from one New Mexico prison to another, PEOPLE confirms.

Joseph Cruz, 32, and Lionel Clah, 29, escaped while being transferred from the Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe to the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces, the state's corrections department said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

The statement gave no information about how they might have escaped, but said it likely happened somewhere between Roswell and Las Cruces. Both men were wearing white paper transport suits and were fully shackled with leg irons, belly chains and handcuffs, the statement said.

By 4:30 a.m. Thursday, the two men were spotted on surveillance video in a hotel lobby in Albuquerque, several hundred miles north of where they escaped, KOB-TV reports.

A manhunt has been underway in and around Albuquerque since Thursday. The suspects were still at large early Friday, Albuquerque police said.

State police are leading the manhunt. Meanwhile, corrections officials are trying to determine how the men escaped. "Somehow or another we failed," Gregg Marcantel, the state corrections secretary, told the Associated Press.

Cruz was convicted in 2006 of first-degree murder, attempted murder in the first degree and child abuse, the corrections department said. Clah was convicted in 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.

Cruz has the word "Alias" tattooed on the back of his neck, a tribal symbol on his right ear and the phrase "13 smiley" on his right elbow, authorities said. Clah has a feather tattoo on his left cheekbone and several tattoos on his arms.

They should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.
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