Quebec provincial police are still searching for escaped convict René Charlebois, the Hells Angel who fled from Montée St-François, a federal prison in Laval, Que., on Saturday night.

Guards discovered the 48-year-old prisoner was missing during their nighttime head count.

Charlebois was a member of the high-ranking Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels and was serving a sentence for, among other things, killing police informant Claude De Serres.

Charlebois was picked up in 2001’s Operation Springtime, along with Maurice “Mom” Boucher, who is said to be a close associate of the escapee.

Minimum security

Escaped convict René Charlebois was incarcerated at Montée St-François Institution, a minimum security prison in Laval, Que. (CBC)

According to Correctional Service Canada, Charlebois was serving an indeterminate sentence for second-degree murder, as well as serving time for conspiring to commit murder, trafficking narcotics and other illicit substances and participating in a criminal organization.

“The Nomads don’t exist anymore, but in the hierarchy of the Hells Angels, he’s still one of the top [people],” said Daniel Renaud, a journalist who follows organized crime for La Presse.

Questions of why a dangerous criminal serving a long sentence was in a minimum-security institution began swirling when news of his escape broke.

Sgt. Benoit Richard of the Sureté du Québec said it’s up to Correctional Service Canada to determine where to place prisoners and not the police.

Serge Abergel, spokesman for the correctional service, said prisoners assessed as being a low risk to the general population are placed in minimum-security institutions.

Abergel said they are launching a national board of investigation to respond to ''concerns related to this escape.''

Guy Ouellette, the Liberal MNA for Chomedey and former SQ officer in the Wolverine anti-biker gang squad, said he believes this escape raises questions about the level of custody needed for high-profile, gang-associated inmates such as Charlebois.

"All those guys who have been sentenced to 20 or 25 years in jail try to fool the system, they try to persuade the system that they are okay now, that they can be released or having permission or having their security decreased to be in the minimum [security prisons]," said Ouellette. 

"I think it raises some questions about the criteria enforced these days regarding that type of guy."

Several prisoners have escaped from Montée St-François in the past few years.

In fact, another prisoner escaped from the federal penitentiary just a few months before Charlebois.

Last year, another escaped (and recaptured) prisoner told a journalist that he simply "pressed on the door" to get out.