A white supremacist gang leader and one other man escaped prison by using materials stuffed in their beds to make it look as though they were sleeping in them.
Wesley Gullett, 30, and Christopher Sanderson, 34, escaped from the Jefferson County Detention Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, sometime between 12 a.m. Monday and 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, The Pine Bluff Commercial reported.
The U.S. Marshals Service said authorities were searching for the men, who are considered armed and dangerous.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr., the men were housed in a pod with 12 other inmates. Woods said the men put "dummy bodies" in their beds to fool prison guards into thinking they were asleep for headcounts.
"What should have happened is that they (jailers counting heads) should have placed hands on (the inmates) to make sure they were really there," Woods said. He also said that a minimum of one headcount is required during each of the jail's three shifts.
Also working in favor of Gullett and Sanderson's escape was the fact that the prison is understaffed and in need of renovation, and a lack of funds prevents either of those problems from being fixed.
"I always hear that there is no money, but people expect those who are put in jail to stay there," Woods said. "I have a very important job to make sure that happens."
Gullett is reportedly the "outside" president of the New Aryan Empire, which has been indicted on federal charges. Gullett oversaw all of the gang's activities by members who were not in prison, per The Pine Bluff Commercial.
Prosecutors said the gang, which has about 5,000 members, began as a prison gang in the 1990s, and it is involved a variety of criminal activities, including narcotics trafficking, witness intimidation and acts of violence, attempted murder, kidnapping, and assault.Gullett was was arrested in February along with 53 other white supremacists from the gang, KTHV reported. His charges include attempted murder in aid of racketeering, distribution of methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
Gullett was accused of attempting to kill Bruce Wayne Hurley, of Atkins, Arkansas, who told an informant about the gang's activities. Hurley was found dead at his home in May 2016, but an indictment in the case revealed that authorities never identified who killed him.
Sanderson was reportedly not a part of the gang and was being held on federal gun and drug charges.