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Helicopters, identity fraud and squeezing through the fence: a brief history of prison breaks in Quebec

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Friday's arrest warrant against 32-year-old prison inmate Yacine Zouaoui is the latest of hundreds of reported prison escapes in Quebec.


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


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


July 22, 2022


David Gingras-Gaudet, 37, escaped from the Orsainville Detention Centre, where he was being held for drug offences. With the help of another inmate, he managed to escape through the perimeter fence and was recaptured shortly afterwards.


December 15, 2022


Francois Paquette, 53, was serving a sentence of more than three years for burglary when he escaped from the Archambault asylum in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. He was reported missing during a count and recaptured by police a day later.


10 February 2021


David Everett Alexson, 51, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and served part of his sentence at the Waseskun Healing Centre in the Lanaudiere area, but then left the premises. He was rearrested less than a week later.


15 February 2019


Denis Begin, 58, escaped from the minimum-security Federal Training Center where he was serving a life sentence for premeditated murder. He was caught in May 2023 and, in a dramatic twist, is suspected of killing seven people in Old Montreal in March 2023. No charges have been filed in the case.


March 1, 2016


Sylvain Lauzon, 43, was in prison for robbery and other crimes when he escaped from the 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 short chase.


23 March 2015


Francis Boucher, 39, son of alleged Hells Angels boss Maurice “Mom” Boucher, escaped from Bordeaux prison posing as an inmate with a similar name. He was serving a 10-year sentence for gangsterism, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder in 2001. He turned himself in two days later.


7 June 2014


Yves Denis, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53, and Serge Pomerleau, 49, escaped from the Orsainville Detention Centre near Quebec City by helicopter and landed in the prison yard. Less than two weeks later, the men were re-arrested in a luxury apartment in Old Montreal.


14 September 2013


Hells Angels member Rene Charlebois, 48, was serving a sentence for second-degree murder (conviction in 2003) at the Montee Saint-Francois prison in Laval when he went missing during a count. He was found dead two weeks later, on September 26, 2013.


17 March 2013


Benjamin Hudon Barbeau and Dany Provencal boarded a hijacked helicopter and escaped from the Saint-Jerome prison camp. The two inmates dangled from a rope lowered from the helicopter before escaping into the Laurentian Mountains with the two accomplices who had hijacked the helicopter. The two accomplices and two inmates were found hours later after exchanging gunfire with police. Two others were arrested as accomplices.


31 January 2013


Raymond Rouette, 51, had been in a prison in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines since 1988 for premeditated murder. He escaped during an excursion escorted by guards. He was arrested again just over a week later.


HARD WEEK


7 October 2012


Gilles Meloche, 56, was not present at the count at the Montee St-Francois prison in Laval, where he had been serving an indeterminate sentence for premeditated murder and armed robbery since 1980.


October 4, 2012


The guards noticed that 32-year-old Philippe Pelletier had escaped from the same prison. Pelletier had been in prison since November 2010 and had been convicted of robbery and possession of weapons.


29 September 2012


Alex Michaud-Robitaille, 27, was not among the inmates in the evening's count. He was serving a two-year prison sentence for drunk driving and other offenses and was rearrested within the week.


June 3, 2010


Daniel Cook, 53, has escaped from Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines prison. Cook was convicted of premeditated murder in 1997 and escaped while on a group outing with an escort.