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U.S. Marshals release photos of escaped inmate's tattoos

Gonzalo Lopez has been on the run since May 12 when he ran from a crashed prison bus in East Texas.

CENTERVILLE, Texas — The manhunt is intensifying for Gonzalo Lopez, the convicted killer who escaped police custody earlier this month.

On May 12, Lopez escaped custody by shedding his shackles and cutting through a metal barrier before stabbing a correctional officer and getting away on foot after the bus crashed.

RELATED: New photos show inmate Gonzalo Lopez hours before escape

The search to find the 46-year-old is focused in Centerville, Texas, which is two hours north of Houston.

“He’s crafty," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said. "He’s done this before down in South Texas in Webb County he hid out for almost nine days.”

RELATED: Gonzalo Lopez search update | Law enforcement scouring western Leon County

Shortly after Lopez escaped, we got a better idea of what those search efforts look like when TDCJ released a video showing hundreds of officers marching through the brush acre-by-acre. They even showed a pop-up city that developed on the cow pastures around Centerville.

Authorities previously released photos of Lopez that were taken by surveillance cameras shortly before he boarded the bus. On May 25, the U.S. Marshals released photos showing Lopez's tattoos.

Credit: US Marshals

Hurst said they haven't found any suspicious activity, but as the manhunt continues, he had a message to the community.

"This is a very dangerous man. Back in 2005, he killed someone with a pickax. In 2004, he shot at an officer. If he has that device, whatever he used to cut through the door and also stab the officer, folks to need to be aware he may still have that on him," Hurst said.

RELATED: 'Stay in your homes': $50,000 reward for 'very dangerous' escaped killer still on the loose in East Texas

Hurst said it's still unclear if anyone from the inside helped him get away and also said it's unclear if the bus was being followed.

“There is no indication that there was anything of a suspicious nature from the time that bus left Gatesville until the time of the accident," Hurst said.

If you see Lopez, you should call 911 or local law enforcement immediately. There was a recent rumor that Lopez was arrested in the Waco area on Thursday morning, but police said that did not happen.

'Green Berets of prison gangs '

Sam Houston State University Criminal Justice professor Mitchel Roth writes books about inmate escapes and prison gangs.

“It’s a pretty much backwoods area," Roth said. "There’s not a whole lot of people living out there, lots of places to hide and that sort of thing, but I would suspect he’s already gone somewhere and that he’s had help from somebody else.”

Roth says it makes sense because the gang Lopez is affiliated with teaches its members to live like soldiers.

RELATED: 'Stay in your homes': $50,000 reward for 'very dangerous' escaped killer still on the loose in East Texas

“The Mexican Mafia is kind of one of the old school prison gangs," Roth said. "One of the first, it’s a very elite type of prison gang where they don’t just take everybody and they treat everybody like they’re in a paramilitary unit.”

Which makes the idea of surviving in the woods, and evading capture for more than one week, more understandable.

“I heard one of them say that they’re like the Green Berets of prison gangs," Roth said.

Video evidence

Video taken from a passing car shows the moments shortly after Lopez escaped. In the distance, you can barely see what appears to be Lopez running through a pasture in his white prison uniform. A source told KHOU 11 News that on Tuesday officers found evidence left behind by Lopez shortly after the bus crashed.

TDCJ said it was the largest concentrated manhunt since 2004 or 2005.

RELATED: New photos show inmate Gonzalo Lopez hours before escape

The escape

Lopez was being transported Thursday from the Alfred Hughes Unit outside of Gatesville in central Texas to a prison medical facility in Huntsville when he was able to get loose and stab the bus driver in the hand and chest. He drove off in the bus but didn't get far thanks to another guard who shot out its back tires with a shotgun.

Who is Lopez

Lopez is serving back-to-back life sentences for shooting at a Webb County, Texas sheriff's deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickax in Hidalgo County after holding him ransom on a drug debt.

RELATED: This isn't the first time escaped convict Gonzalo Lopez has successfully gotten away from law enforcement

It's not the first time Lopez has managed to hide from law enforcement for an extended period of time. In 2004, he was able to run away from a police chase in South Texas and stayed hidden with the help of a cartel associate, he told investigators at the time.

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