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Inmate who escaped from fire camp is captured in Banning

By in Press Enterprise on August 30, 2017

By Gail Wesson Julio Lugo, 27, a minimum security prisoner, walked away from a Cal Fire camp, the Oak Glen Conservation Camp, early Friday, Aug. 25, and was found Monday, Aug. 28, in Banning. (Courtesy of California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation)

A minimum-security prisoner who walked away from a state fire camp last week was caught Monday, Aug. 28, in a backyard in Banning, Riverside County sheriff’s officials said.

Julio Cesar Lugo, 27, had last been seen in his assigned dormitory at the Oak Glen Conservation Camp north of Beaumont about 1 a.m. Friday, according to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation.

He was reported missing during an informal 3 a.m. head count. The Department of Corrections began searching for him and requested assistance from local agencies.

Sheriff’s deputies found him Monday afternoon in the 1300 block of North Murray Street in Banning and, with help from a K-9 unit and Banning police, caught him as he ran into the backyard, the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

He was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility near Banning.

Lugo had been convicted of auto theft in April in Riverside County Superior Court and sentenced to two years in jail. As part of the county’s alternative sentencing program, he was approved to train for and join a Cal Fire inmate hand crew for wildfire season, and was transferred in May to the state fire camp.

Lugo is among more than 100 inmate-firefighters stationed at the camp, located on U.S. Forest Service land in the vicinity of Yucaipa, roughly 10 miles north of Beaumont.

The Department of Corrections noted that since 1977, 99 percent of offenders who escaped from a minimum or maximum security state correctional facility have been apprehended.

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