As safe houses go, the luxury condo where three Quebec prison escapees hid out from the law had much to offer: city views, plenty of food, as well as $100,000 in cash for good measure.
But it didn’t end up offering what the three needed – safety. On Sunday, Yves Denis, Denis Lefebvre and Serge Pomerleau spent their first night in two weeks back in their cells in the Orsainville Detention Centre, and on Monday they appeared before a judge to face new charges related to their now infamous prison break.
The trio, who were whisked off by helicopter from a prison yard June 7, are now charged with intent to escape from jail and escaping lawful custody. They were already facing counts of drug trafficking and are awaiting trial on murder and gang-related charges next year.
“Everyone is satisfied that these people are back where they belong – behind bars,” Premier Philippe Couillard said on Monday after praising provincial police for the arrests.
In contrast to the day they escaped from prison, the trio were under heavy surveillance and were cuffed and shackled when they came to court in Quebec City.
The presiding judge, Louis Dionne, also stripped them of prison privileges, such as access to computers and being in the courtyard together, which they enjoyed before their escape.
Police are giving a few more details about what led to their capture by the tactical squad in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lieutenant Michel Brunet of the Sûreté du Québec says tips from the public – including on social media – helped them track down the fugitives. Information started flowing in as soon as the three flew off in their getaway chopper.
“A helicopter makes noise. You look up in the air. People saw things,” he said. “These people called the Sûreté du Québec.”
Inside their 10th-floor condo in Old Montreal, police found clothing and food – reportedly shrimp and other seafood – but no firearms. As for the $100,000 in cash, it was undoubtedly aimed at helping the trio get out of Canada, police say.
“The plan was surely to leave the country,” Lt. Brunet said. “At what point? How long did they want to hide? I can’t say. But the plan was to flee.”
He said the men were the object of such an intense manhunt – Interpol had issued a global alert on them – that clearing a border would have been “excessively difficult.” Everyplace from train stations to land border crossings between Quebec and the United States, people had been on the lookout for them, he said.
François Doré, a retired SQ officer, said the trio may have waited too long before trying to slip across the border.
“Either their escape plan was poorly prepared, or they waited too long and they were simply caught in a trap,” he said.
Police say the three could not have acted alone, and they are searching for one or more accomplices.
According to TVA, the condo that had served as the trio’s hideout had been rented by Simon Bédard, described as having had links to criminal bikers in the Quebec City area. He had lost his leg in a car bomb in 1994 and spent eight months in Costa Rica recovering. He was arrested when he returned to Quebec in 1995 and convicted a year later for drug trafficking.
Police likely relied on everything from electronic eavesdropping to family members and informants in an all-out attempt to catch the three escapees, Mr. Doré said.