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N.Y. prisoner search: 1,000 officers comb mosquito-infested forest

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Mike Groll/AP

(Read caption) A law enforcement officer walks into the woods as the search continues for two escaped prisoners from Clinton Correctional Facility, on Wednesday, in Mountain View, N.Y. Hundreds of searchers checked ATV trails and logging roads and went door-to-door in far northern New York trying to close in on David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped from Clinton County Correctional Facility more than two weeks ago.

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It’s been nearly three weeks since David Sweat and Richard Matt broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, and law enforcement officers are now focusing their attention on heavily wooded areas less than 50 miles away from the prison. 

Authorities began combing the forested region this week after leads from a hunting cabin that was apparently broken into led to "good evidence, DNA data" regarding the inmates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Roadblocks were set up Tuesday surrounding the hamlets of Owls Head and Mountain View, about 20 miles west of the prison.

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Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told ABC News the hunting cabin where the evidence was found is owned by several corrections officers from different prisons in the area. It is unknown at this point whether the escaped inmates overheard guards talking about the cabin or whether they found it by chance.

Officers have been combing the woodsy region since last weekend, and the search has recently expanded to a small town about eight miles northwest of Dannemora, N.Y. Approximately 140 officers were bussed into the village of Malone Wednesday morning. 

Investigators are conducting door-to-door residence checks along the village outskirts and grid searches in the mosquito-infested woods, as well as checking railroad beds, Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill told the Associated Press. He said officers are also checking seasonal properties for signs of intruders. 

Mr. Sweat and Mr. Matt escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. on June 6. Authorities say the two murderers broke out using power tools allegedly provided to them by Joyce Mitchell, who worked in the prison’s tailor shop.

Matt was sentenced to 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnapping, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss. Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriff's deputy.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.