Inmate who escaped transport van learns sentence

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of the prison escapees who sparked a statewide manhunt last year will be spending even more time behind bars.

Lionel Clah will spend nearly nine more years in prison for the three days he spent on the run.

That is in addition to the 30-year sentence he was already serving for an armed robbery and a shooting that injured a deputy.

A judge sentenced Clah Tuesday to 10 years minus more than a year of time served.

The escape in March of last year had the state and city on edge.

Clah and fellow inmate, Joseph Cruz bolted from a state corrections van during transport to Las Cruces. They hopped out when the van stopped for gas in Artesia.

Cruz, a convicted killer serving a life sentence was arrested near the University of New Mexico after two days on the run.

Lionel Clah found himself in handcuffs the following afternoon. He had been staying at a woman’s Albuquerque apartment and she turned him in.

When police arrived he surrendered right away. He told reporters on his way back to jail that he had been locked up for 10 years and he just wanted to get out.

Cruz took a plea deal and got three years for the escape.

The getaway driver when Clah and Cruz escaped in Artesia is awaiting sentencing and faces up to 24 years in prison.

Jesus Quintana, who was a stranger to the two escapees, pleaded guilty to helping the men after they ran from the transport van. 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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