CENTERVILLE, Texas — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed some Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees have received new handcuffs.
"TDCJ has reviewed all transportation handcuffs and replaced some with newer models," said Amanda Hernandez, director of communications for TDCJ.
We have asked about the difference between the new and old handcuffs and are still awaiting an answer from TDCJ.
25 News first confirmed Texas cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez had a homemade knife and a key before escaping from a prison bus cage, attacking an officer, crashing the bus, and then fleeing into the woods. Lopez later killed a family of five before he was gunned down by law enforcement near San Antonio.
TDCJ has received criticism for how the search was handled from the state's most senior senator — John Whitmire (D-Houston).
Lopez told "other inmates he was going to escape and 'this is your opportunity,'" Whitmire said.
The officers were distracted, and the driver was watching the road, while Lopez was releasing his restraints, and then while he was "breaking out of the little cage he was in," Whitmire said.
Lopez, an inmate with a violent lengthy rap sheet, was serving a life sentence. After the escape, he had the ability to remain on the loose for nearly a month. He was later found near where he had escaped from.
"Lopez was the worst of the worst," and there were "huge mistakes made," Whitmire said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety assisted with the search. For months, 25 News has been asking about the equipment used for the search. Many of those questions still remain unanswered.
TDCJ is conducting an internal investigation on the escape. For a short period of time, the Texas prison system stopped transportation.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has also launched an investigation.
"The department has an active and ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding the escape of Gonzalo Lopez from custody," said ML Calcote, assistant general counsel for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Open records requests have been filled with TDCJ on maintenance logs for buses after a bus transporting prisoners broke down near Waco.
"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is working diligently to compile the information responsive to your request received July 19, 2022. In accordance with Texas Government Code § 552.221(d), additional time is required to process your request. The information you requested is anticipated to be available on August 12, 2022. We appreciate your patience and cooperation," said a TDCJ response to 25 News.
About 2,000 inmates travel on the roads of Texas each day –- half for medical-related reasons. The state of Texas has 98 prisons and 120,000 inmates.