ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An inmate mistakenly released from a central New Mexico county jail by posing as another inmate was caught early Thursday after an intense search that saw checkpoints erected around an Albuquerque suburb.
New Mexico State Police said Ryan Griffin was caught around 3 a.m. in northwest Albuquerque, more than 12 hours after he walked out of a Sandoval County jail.
Griffin, who is facing charges related to credit card theft, was released by mistake when he posed as another inmate, Sandoval County spokesman Sidney Hill said.
According to authorities, Griffin casually walked out and went to a nearby Walmart before visiting a McDonald’s. He then was reported to have roamed around the bedroom community of Enchanted Hills in Rio Rancho, paralyzing the neighborhood and the city of Bernalillo after the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office realized the error.
Residents were urged to lock their doors and not go outside Wednesday evening the sheriff’s office erected check points and searched cars leaving the area.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that Griffin, 36, stole the jail-issued identification card of his bunkmate while he slept.
Griffin then shaved his head and facial hair in order to resemble his bunkmate, who was scheduled to be released around 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Jail officials realized the mistake around 1:30 p.m. when the bunkmate woke up and asked if he could be released.
Griffin had drugs and stolen property on him when he was arrested, said Lt. Keith Elder of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office.
Elder said Griffin has been booked back into jail and is facing new charges for the escape.
According to the Journal, three officers are facing discipline for not following proper release procedures. One of them reportedly didn’t ask Griffin any personal questions to verify his identity, a required part of the release process.
It was the second time in a few months that an inmate has escaped from the Sandoval County jail.
In May, inmates Paul Garcia and Blake McPherson slipped through a hole in the detention center’s fence and climbed onto the roof.
McPherson was caught later that day in Albuquerque and Garcia was captured later that week.
An investigation later found that guards improperly placed Garcia, who faced murder charges, in a minimum-security unit.