Quebec police capture 3 inmates escaped in helicopter jailbreak

Three inmates who escaped a jail near Quebec City by helicopter have been arrested at an upscale condominium in Old Montreal, Quebec provincial police say.

3 men found hiding out in upscale condominium in Montreal's Old Port district

RAW: Fugitives captured in Montreal

8 years ago
Duration 1:06
The manhunt for three fugitives who escaped prison in a helicopter ended Sunday morning at an upscale condominium complex in Montreal's Old Port.

Three inmates who escaped a jail near Quebec City by helicopter have been arrested at a condominium in Old Montreal, Quebec provincial police say.

Yves Denis, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53, and 49-year-old Serge Pomerleau escaped from Orsainville Detention Centre on June 7, fleeing westbound in a green helicopter that had landed in the jail yard.

The three were arrested at 1:30 a.m., the Sûreté du Québec tweeted. The SQ accompanied by an Emergency Response Team apprehended the men.

One of the three escaped prisoners is shown being escorted from the Old Montreal condominium where they were hiding out. (France Maltais)

It has since emerged that the men were hiding out at a new, upscale condominium development at 370 Saint-André Street in the quiet, mainly residential eastern edge of Old Montreal.

A dark grey Toyota Echo was towed from the scene and police investigators were seen exiting the building with boxes.

Police sources told Radio-Canada that the fugitive prisoners were not armed and were fast asleep at the time of the police operation.

They did not resist arrest.

The three escapees are due to appear in court Monday in Quebec City, but police will not reveal where the men are being held.

Further arrests in the case are likely, police say.

Other individuals helped the men escape from the facility, Sgt. Ronald McInnis told CBC News. The police are continuing their investigation to determine who aided the escape.

The three fugitives were found at a condominium complex at 370 Saint-André Street at the edge of Montreal's Old Port district. (Google Maps)

Quebec's Minister of Public Security Lise Thériault expressed relief at the news Sunday morning.

"Our number one priority was to see these men recaptured," she told Radio-Canada. 

She congratulated all those who helped bring the manhunt to a successful conclusion.

"We worked really hard and it ended well. And that's good," she said.

Apartment's owner used an agency

The owner of the 10th-floor condominium where the three fugitives were hiding out told Radio-Canada that he uses an agency to rent the unit.

He said the agency is responsible for screening applicants and that only one person had signed the rental application.

A current listing for the condominium next door puts the monthly rent at $3,500.

The owner of the 10th floor condominium where the fugitives were staying told Radio-Canada that he uses an agency to rent the apartment. (Radio-Canada)

Drug trafficking, murder charges

The three men were on trial on charges of drug trafficking at the time of their escape. They were also facing murder charges.

They were arrested in 2010 in a drug bust known as Project Crayfish.

The trio was classified under the tightest security measures available at the facility, but complained that these restrictions prevented them from properly preparing for their upcoming trial.

A judge changed their conditions to include no handcuffs in court, more visitor hours, and permission for the three men to be in the jail yard simultaneously on weekdays, CBC News learned after challenging a publication ban along with La Presse.

Information from the trial judge Mr. Justice Louis Dionne's ruling also showed that provincial police suspected the inmates were plotting an escape and told Orsainville authorities.

Despite the men only being allowed to be present in the jail yard simultaneously on weekdays, they escaped on a Saturday evening.

A police source told Radio-Canada earlier in June that authorities knew one of the men, Lefebvre, was a pilot and owned helicopters. His son, Mazime Lefebvre, had his helicopter license.

No-fly zones implemented

After the escape, three facilities had air exclusion zones mandated. Thériault announced the new measures in late June.

The facilities are in Saint-Jérome, Rivière des Prairies, and Orsainville.

It is unclear how long these measures will be in place.

Orsainville had a temporary "no-fly" zone for three days after the escape.

This was the second Quebec jailbreak by helicopter in two years.

In 2013, two inmates climbed a rope into a helicopter hovering over a jail in Saint-Jérôme in a brazen daytime escape. Police located both men about 50 kilometres north of the jail later that same day.

With files from The Canadian Press