Three Quebec helicopter escapees captured at Montreal condo
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, June 22, 2014 6:43AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 22, 2014 9:52PM EDT
Three Quebec fugitives are back behind bars after an early-morning raid in downtown Montreal, ending a two-week manhunt for the suspects who brazenly escaped from prison by helicopter on June 7.
SWAT teams arrested Serge Pomerleau, Denis Lefebvre and Yves Denis around 1: 30 a.m. on Sunday after they were found in a one-bedroom unit on the 10th floor of a luxury condo. No shots were fired during the arrests.
Police won’t say how they tracked down the three suspects, but say they are still looking for at least one other suspect who was likely an accomplice in the prison break.
"It could be a person who helped them escape from prison or person who helped them hide from us," said Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau. "The investigation continues."
The owner of the condo, who did not want to give his name, told CTV News that he did not know the three suspects. He said his unit was rented out through an agency three weeks ago, prior to the June 7 prison escape.
The condo is a new, upscale development located in Old Montreal, near the city’s historic waterfront. Residents of the building say they are shocked, as many of their neighbours are young professionals or retired couples.
"We're obviously very, very shocked," Theirry Lindor, who lives in the building, told CTV News on Sunday. "It’s not something that happens in this area."
Investigators left the condo midday Sunday, carrying several containers and bags of evidence that could be used in court. A parked car was also seized by police. The three suspects are scheduled to appear in a Quebec City court on Monday, where it is expected they will face fresh charges. Police have not yet said what those charges will be.
Denis, 35, Lefebvre, 53, and Pomerleau, 49, escaped from prison on June 7 when a helicopter flew them out of a courtyard at the Orsainville Detention Centre near Quebec City.
Prior to their escape, the three men were awaiting trial on numerous charges including first-degree murder, gangsterism and drug trafficking. All three were arrested in 2010 in a drug trafficking blitz called 'Operation Crayfish.'
Quebec's Public Security Minister Lise Theriault said she is “relieved” the three men have been captured.
"We’ve been saying for two weeks (that) the first priority is to catch the three men, so that’s done," she told The Canadian Press.
Theriault added that the suspects are under heavy security as they await Monday’s court appearance.
June's prison escape was the second helicopter-related jailbreak in the province in 15 months. The brazen escape landed the three men on Interpol's ‘Most Wanted’ fugitives list, sparking an international manhunt.
The escape also produced controversy for the new provincial Liberal government, as reports surfaced that security measures at the prison were loosened ahead of the jailbreak.
At the time of the jailbreak, Theriault said prison officials allowed the three men into the courtyard without restraints. One of the inmates was also allowed to use a computer with Internet access prior to their escape.
The Quebec government has ordered an internal investigation into the jailbreak. In the meantime, a no-fly zone has been established at select Quebec prisons.
With a report from CTV Montreal bureau chief Genevieve Beauchemin and The Canadian Press