Argentine drug traffickers who escaped prison with toy gun are still at large
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Argentine drug traffickers who escaped prison with toy gun are still at large

Three drug traffickers and murderers sentenced to life imprisonment who escaped from a maximum security prison over a week ago in Buenos Aires have furthered their string of crimes by shooting at police.

Four days ago they shot two policemen at a checkpoint on a road near Buenos Aires and since then the authorities say they have them surrounded, but up until now have not managed to catch them.

The trio escaped on Sunday  December 27.

Given the suspicions about police not being thorough in their investigation, the government decided that all national security forces are to join the search for Victor Schillaci and brothers Martin and Cristian Lanatta.

After a routine police control intercepted them on Thursday, December 31, they reacted by attacking them with rifles and pistols.

Television stations broadcast video captured on a security camera. The images showed two of the fugitives getting out of a van and attacking police with guns.

Two of the policemen were badly wounded. Lucrecia Yudati, 33, was shot in the legs. His colleague, Fernando Pengsawath, 22, had several hits in the abdomen and continues to be in a serious condition.

“It is them (the fugatives). They shot and wounded two police officers. These people do not mind dying. They act as murderers,” said Cristian Ritondo, Buenos Aires Security Minister, at a press conference confirming who escaped after the shooting on a road near the rural town of Ranchos, 120 km south of the capital.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 after being linked to murder and trafficking ephedrine to Mexico.

The escape

The three assassins linked to drug trafficking escaped after threatening prison officers with a wooden toy gun at the maximum security General Alveral prison on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

The three left through the main prison gate and fled in a small truck, raising suspicions that they could have been helped by prison staff, according to some  media reports.

Argentina has become a large importer of ephedrine during the last decade. In 2009, Mexican Jesus Martinez Espinoza and seven other Aztec citizens were arrested in the raid on a house in the town of Ingeniero Maschwitz, where they had set up a laboratory of synthetic drugs being prepared from ephedrine as the base substance.