Two gang members who still are missing used a key to escape from the jail at the 77th Street Division during the weekend, police said Thursday.
The fugitives, Buford Bates, 24, and Eric Wright, 18, are members of the Rolling 60s Crips gang and had been arrested on suspicion of kidnaping and robbery, Police Cmdr. Bill Booth said. They had been taken into custody during a crackdown on drug trafficking in South-Central Los Angeles.
“Our investigation has established that they escaped (with) . . . a key,” Booth said. “We’re not certain how. . . . We start with the strong assumption of negligence or poor procedure someplace.”
However, Booth did not rule out the possibility that someone inside the police station may have given the prisoners a key that fits cell doors and a back door. The key was later found outside the building, Booth said, but he declined to say where.
Bates and Wright were among 33 suspects arrested last week during joint raids by the FBI, anti-gang police detectives and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Police said they are suspected of stealing 11 guns, including a MAC-11 assault weapon, from a man they allegedly kidnaped on Jan. 30.