State withdraws plan to fire prison transport van guards

NMDC transport van

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The prison van guards facing termination after two inmates escaped on their watch will not be fired.

Last month, Lionel Clah and Joseph Cruz escaped a prison transport van in Artesia sparking a statewide manhunt. Both were caught days later in Albuquerque.

Officers Taracina Morgan and Michael Ortega were in charge at the time and have been on leave since the escape.

It’s reported that the state recently withdrew their plan to fire both officers pending further investigation.

So far, at least six arrests have been made in connection to the escape.

The most recent is Cruz’s aunt, Felice Maes. She’s been charged with harboring or aiding a felon as well as assisting an escape. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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