Search underway in Manatee for escaped prisoner

MANATEE — The Florida Department of Corrections is aggressively searching for escaped inmate James Russell, who escaped Dec. 17 from Central Florida Reception Center in Orlando.

Russell may be in the Manatee County area, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections.

“We have a lot of sources of criminal intelligence that we know he’s in the area,” said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff. Florida Department of Corrections’ dog tracking teams and search teams are working with local law enforcement, but are also asking for help in finding the escaped inmate.

Russell, 35, has brown hair and hazel eyes, stands 5-foot-6 and weighs 176 pounds.

He uses the aliases James R. Cochran and a birth date of Nov. 8, 1974.

Russell has a mole on the left cheek of his face and multiple tattoos.

On his left arm, he has tattoos of three heads on chains, a flame cross, lightning bolts, the words “knuce Hitler,” and a swastika.

Clowns are tattooed on his left leg. His right arm has tattoos of skull flames and Harley Davidson.On his right shoulder are the tattoos “kill em all viking” and “viking demon.” “Scorpio” is tattooed on his stomach.

Russell is a minimum custody inmate who was working in the automotive department outside the fence at Central Florida Reception Center when he escaped about 3:30 p.m. Dec. 17. Rackleff declined to say if authorities have recovered the stolen van.

“Any escaped inmate is dangerous. He has a lot riding on not being caught. So use caution if you see him,” Rackleff said.

He was serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence from Manatee County for manufacturing heroin and trafficking in stolen property.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Russell is asked to contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 747-3011, ext. 2260 or the Florida Department of Corrections at (850) 922-6867. Callers may also dial 9-1-1.