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Published: Thursday, 3/22/2001

Search ongoing for man who escaped police

SWANTON - The commander of the Ohio Highway Patrol here will conduct an administrative investigation into how a handcuffed suspect escaped from a cruiser. The search continues for the missing man.

Javier Montoya, 29, of Detroit was the object of a search in Williams County, where he was last seen north of Holiday City.

Officials will investigate how Mr. Montoya could have escaped custody from a maintenance garage in Montpelier and gotten a head start on searchers.

He and Leonardo Fabio Marin-Nino, 24, of Tucker, Ga., were arrested Monday night after a mini-van driven by Mr. Montoya was stopped for a speeding violation on the Ohio Turnpike.

The Ohio Highway Patrol trooper, C.L. Brewster, became suspicious of the two men and called for a canine unit. “Officers looked for indicators of criminal behavior, and she saw some,” Lt. Ken Kocab, commander of the OHP Swanton post, said. “It was good work on the officer's part.”

A sniffing dog alerted troopers to search the van further and it was taken to a maintenance building on the turnpike. Signs of modifications to the vehicle were seen, Lieutenant Kocab said.

The minivan was towed to Hutch's Towing & Recovery, Inc., in Montpelier, where a secret compartment containing six kilos of cocaine and a loaded 9mm pistol was found, troopers said.

The two suspects were taken to that site in separate patrol cars, Lieutenant Kocab said. There, left alone in a patrol car, Mr. Montoya somehow removed his handcuffs.

“He had to have had a key hidden on him somewhere,'' Lieutenant Kocab said.

The suspect then rolled down a car window, crawled out, and fled. “Patrol cars have power windows just like a normal car,” Lieutenant Kocab said. “He got to a switch somehow. We're not sure how yet.”

Mr. Montoya will face federal escape charges in addition to drug, concealed weapon, criminal tools, and other possible charges, Lieutenant Kocab said.

Mr. Marin-Nino, 24, yesterday was taken from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio at Stryker to the Lucas County jail in Toledo. He appeared in court on charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute, said Mark Murtha of the Toledo office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The DEA has taken the case to present federal charges and is aiding in the search for the missing suspect, Mr. Murtha said.

“We're in the process of putting him into a nationwide network with the National Crime Information Center,” Mr. Murtha said. The DEA has taken over the case because of its “significant amount of drugs,” he said.

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