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Inmate mistakenly released from Sandoval jail

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ryan Griffin was one of several inmates who were released from the Sandoval County Detention Center around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The only problem is Griffin, who faces charges related to credit card theft, wasn’t supposed to be released, according to a county spokesman.

Ryan Griffin. (Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office)

Regardless, he apparently took the opportunity and fled.

Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Keith Elder said authorities confirmed that after the escape, Griffin managed to shave off all his facial hair.

A search was underway near the Walmart in Bernalillo and just west of N.M. 528 in neighborhoods and arroyos Wednesday evening. Officers with the Rio Rancho Police Department, Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office, Bernalillo Police Department and New Mexico State Police had all joined in the search.

“Area residents need to move inside and lock their doors,” Elder said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. “If someone you do not know knocks at your door, call 911 immediately. Drivers are warned to not pick up hitchhikers.”

Griffin was last seen wearing gray sweatpants, a black long-sleeved shirt and a black baseball cap. He is 6 feet tall and weighs around 210 pounds.

“If you see Ryan Griffin, do not approach him or attempt to take him into custody,” Elder said. “Call law enforcement immediately.”

Authorities said he was a federal inmate, but the Journal couldn’t locate the details of Griffin’s criminal case because Sandoval County spokesman Sidney Hill said he did not have, and was not able to obtain, Griffin’s age or date of birth.

This is the second time in a few months that an inmate has escaped from the Sandoval County jail.

In early May, inmates Paul Garcia and Blake McPherson slipped through a hole in the detention center’s fence and climbed onto the roof.

McPherson was captured later that day in Albuquerque, and Garcia was caught a week later.

Multiple investigations into that escape concluded that detention center officers improperly put Garcia, who faces murder charges, into a minimum-security unit at the jail.

The officers also didn’t notice that inmates had made a hole in the fence.

In the aftermath of those investigations, two officers were facing disciplinary action for not properly monitoring the inmates, according to previous Journal reports.

And all detention center officers were supposed to go through refresher training. Some parts of the investigative reports were redacted.

Why Griffin was mistakenly released Wednesday afternoon remains unclear.

Hill said authorities realized soon afterward that he’d been released by mistake. The public was notified around 3:45 p.m.