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Helicopters, impersonations and squeezing through the fence: a brief history of Quebec prison escapes

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Friday's warrant for prison inmate Yacine Zouaoui, 32, is the latest in hundreds of reported prison breaks in Quebec.

From drug dealers to convicted murderers to Hells Angels members, sometimes they just walked away, sometimes they squeezed through a fence, and twice they escaped in helicopters.

Here's a look at just some of the prison escapes reported in Quebec since 2010.

July 22, 2022

David Gingras-Gaudet, 37, escaped from the Orsainville Detention Centre while serving time on drug charges. He escaped through the outer fence with the help of another inmate and was recaptured shortly after.

Dec. 15, 2022

Francois Paquette, 53, was serving a sentence of three years and change for breaking and entering when he escaped from the Archambault Institution in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. He was noted missing during headcount and recaptured by police a day later.

Feb. 10, 2021

David Everett Alexson, 51, was convicted on two second-degree murder counts and was serving part of his sentence at the Waseskun Healing Centre in the Lanaudiere region and left the premises. He was recaptured less than a week later.

Feb. 15, 2019

Denis Begin, 58, broke out of the minimum security Federal Training Centre where he was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. He was nabbed in May 2023, and, in a dramatic turn, is suspected of starting the fire that killed seven people in Old Montreal in March 2023. No charges have been laid in the case.

March 1, 2016

Sylvain Lauzon, 43, was serving time for robbery and other offences when he escaped from Archambault Institution in Ste. Anne des Plaines. He was arrested on Ste. Catherine Street in Montreal in a stolen car after leading police on a brief chase.

March 23, 2015

Son of reputed Hells Angels kingpin Maurice "Mom" Boucher, Francis Boucher, 39, walked out of Bordeaux Prison by posing as an inmate with a similar name. He was serving a 10-year sentence for gangsterism, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder from 2001. He turned himself in two days later.

June 7, 2014

Yves Denis, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53, and Serge Pomerleau, 49, fled the Orsainville Detention Centre near Quebec City in a helicopter that touched down in the prison yard. The men were recaptured just under two weeks later in a luxury condo in Old Montreal.

Sept. 14, 2013

Hells Angels member Rene Charlebois, 48, was serving a second-degree murder stint (convicted in 2003) at Montee Saint-Francois prison in Laval when he was found missing during a headcount. He was found dead two weeks later, on Sept. 26, 2013.

March 17, 2013

Benjamin Hudon Barbeau and Dany Provencal boarded a hijacked helicopter and escaped from the Saint-Jerome detention centre. The two inmates dangled from a rope lowered from the helicopter before fleeing in the Laurentians with the two accomplices who hijacked the helicopter. The two accomplices and two inmates were found hours later after exchanging gunfire with police. Two others were arrested as accomplices.

Jan. 31, 2013

Raymond Rouette, 51, was serving time since 1988 for first-degree murder in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines at the minimum security prison and escaped while on an outing escorted by guards. He was recaptured just over a week later.

ROUGH WEEK

Oct. 7, 2012

Gilles Meloche, 56, was not present during the headcount at the Montee St-Francois Institution in Laval where he was serving an indeterminate sentence since 1980 for second-degree murder and armed robbery.

Oct. 4, 2012

Guards noticed that 32-year-old Philippe Pelletier had escaped from the same detention centre. In prison since Nov. 2010, Pelletier had been convicted of robbery and weapons possession.

Sept. 29, 2012

Alex Michaud-Robitaille, 27, was not among the inmates during the evening headcount. He was serving a two-year sentence for drunk-driving and other offences and was recaptured within the week.

June 3, 2010

Daniel Cook, 53, escaped from the Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines prison. Cook was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997 and escaped when on a group outing accompanied by an escort.

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