Three California inmates take a page out of El Chapo’s escape handbook

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SANTA ANA, CA - When you're locked up for murder, you've got a lot of time to kill. Plenty of time to plot and scheme.

Three guys found a way of a maximum-security jail in Santa Ana on Friday. The details of their great escape sound like they took a page straight out of El Chapo's playbook.

Officials say the three inmates managed to cut through steel bars in the cells and sneak through plumbing tunnels, where more critical breaches occurred.

"We are talking about breaching in some cases significant amounts of steel bar, and metal," said Lt. Jeff Hallock.

After that, they gained access to an unsecured area on the roof, tied towels and bed sheets together to form a makeshift rope and rapelled to the ground.

Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong are all accused in separate cases involving murder, kidnapping and attempted murder. Nayeri has a particularly gruesome past, accused of kidnapping a Newport Beach pot dispensary owner, torturing him with a blowtorch, and cutting off his penis.

Meanwhile, investigators are looking into the possibility that the triple threat had help from the inside. Sheriff's deputies say that a jail incident caused Friday night's inmate check to be delayed by an hour or so.

"As the 8 o'clock physical body count approached, there was a disturbance at the jail that we feel strongly contributed to the planning of the escape," said Lt. Hallock.

There's no telling where they are now, but officials are hoping a $50,000 reward for information leading to their capture, will turn a cold trail hot once again.