U.S. Marshals are aggressively searching for Travis Ware, who escaped from the federal prison camp in Millington sometime Sunday.
Ware was reported missing after he missed Sunday's bed check at the prison, which has been criticized in the past for relaxed security.
"Mr. Ware was doing 235 months, which is almost 20 years, for possession with intent to distribute cocaine," said U.S. Deputy Marshal Seth Bruce. "He has a long criminal history."
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Ware had been in prison since 2003 and is not scheduled to be released until at least 2020.
"We have backtracked his history at the prison to see what kind of people came to see him, what kind of people contacted him," Dep. Marshal Bruce said. "We have checked the local motels and put out an all points bulletin for him with other law enforcement agencies."
The prison camp has been the subject of complaints from residents who live near it. They say inmates climb through holes in a fence and walk off the prison camp, cut across their lawns and rendezvous with friends.
Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland said he will question prison staff about the escape and ask U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) for money to upgrade the camp security.
"Why does this keep happening?," questioned Commissioner Roland. "I know this is a minimal security prison, but if a gentleman goes to jail for distributing cocaine, to me that's a serious problem. We need to check that fence. I know that we have had problems in the past with inmates coming out and meeting their girlfriends and leaving and coming back. I just want to know if this is one of these cases."
The prison did not notify the Shelby County Sheriff's Office or community leaders near the facility, Commissioner Roland told FOX13 News.
Commissioner Roland said he and Mayor Terry Jones of Millington will be holding a news conference Tuesday concerning the escaped inmate.
Marshals have put Ware on the top of their wanted fugitives to apprehend.
"He has contacts in the state of Tennessee," Dep. Marshal Bruce said. "We don't know if he has developed other contacts locally. That's one of the reasons why we came to FOX13 to get the word out and get more information that we can use."
If you recognize Ware you are urged to call 9-1-1 or Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.