TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – A 16-year-old boy accused of killing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent has escaped from a juvenile prison for the fifth time in three years — just as he promised, an official said Saturday.
Herlan Colindres, a street gang member implicated in 16 other killings, slipped out of the crumbling juvenile rehabilitation center in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on Friday, said Napoleon Nazar, national police director of criminal investigations.
Colindres and his 13-year-old bodyguard were arrested in July in the killing of Michael Timothy Markey, a DEA agent who was shot to death July 29 while visiting a temple dedicated to Honduras' patron saint outside of Tegucigalpa.
It was Colindres' second escape in less than four months — and the fifth in three years — from the same prison, where bricks can easily be chipped from the walls.
On Aug. 7, he weakened the metal bars of his cell with a nail file and fled — five days after boasting to reporters, "I will escape to kill all of the journalists." He was captured the same day while hitchhiking.
After that, the government built him a brick-walled cell with a private bathroom, watched by six guards. It was unclear how he broke out of that cell.
"We think other imprisoned youths helped him get out," Nazar said.
Colindres had been jailed previously in the killings of rival youth gang members, but was able to escape within days. He has denied involvement in Markey's death.
The teen had previously been identified as 13-year-old Erlan Colindres, but authorities said Saturday he was three years older than believed and had modified the spelling of his first name.
Honduran authorities said Markey, 44, who was based in El Paso, Texas, had been in the Central American country training police in drug interdiction efforts.
Colindres apparently has had to fend for himself from a young age. Authorities say his mother is bedridden and the whereabouts of his father are unknown.
On Aug. 2, he told reporters, "I don't care if I die outside, but I have to get out of here."