2 New Mexico prisoners, 1 convicted of murder, escape from van

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Two “violent” prisoners — including one convicted of first-degree murder — were on the loose Thursday after escaping from a prisoner transport van the previous night in southeastern New Mexico, authorities said.

Joseph Cruz, 32, and Lionel Clah, 29, escaped from the van near the city of Artesia on Wednesday night at about 8:30 p.m. while the state corrections department was attempting to transport them, the New Mexico State Police said.

They were last seen wearing white prisoner jumpsuits and bound by shackles, state police said.

Details about the escape weren’t immediately available, state police said.

Cruz had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and child abuse, according to the New Mexico Corrections Department.

Clah had pleaded guilty to armed robbery with a deadly weapon and pleaded no contest to assault with intent to commit a violent felony upon an officer.