A helicopter swooped into a Canadian prison and carried three prisoners away on Saturday evening, police said.
The men escaped from the prison in Orsainville just north of Quebec City, said Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau, a spokesperson for the Surete du Quebec, the provincial police force.
The Surete identified the men on its Twitter feed as Serge Pomerleau, 49; Denis Lefebvre, 53; and Yves Denis, 35. But the CBC said the last man’s full name was Yves Denis Yvon Lamontagne.
Bilodeau said police were searching for a green helicopter with red and white markings that landed at the prison, though she didn’t know whether it landed in a prison yard, on a building or nearby. She said it was last seen heading west from Quebec City.
Quebec Provincial Police / @sureteduquebec via Twitter
From left, Denis Lefebvre, Serge Pomerleau and Yves Denis are shown in a composite photo. Quebec police say they escaped from prison Saturday evening in a helicopter.
She said a lone pilot was believed to have been aboard the copter when it arrived at the prison.
“There is a massive manhunt going on to try to locate them,” she said.
Airports were alerted to watch for the aircraft, and the military was helping in an air search, she said.
She said she was uncertain of the crimes the men had committed but said they had been sent to prison as a result of Project Crayfish.
That investigation of drug trafficking led to the arrest of dozens of people on various charges.
In March 2013, two men escaped from a prison northwest of Montreal by climbing into a hovering helicopter that had been hijacked. The escapees and two people accused of hijacking the copter were captured within hours, according to media reports at the time.
First published June 7 2014, 7:46 PM
Gil Aegerter is an editor-producer who came to NBC News in November 2007. Aegerter is responsible for reporting for NBC Newsâ€™ investigations unit and in that role has written about online election fraud in Florida, encryption software for terrorists, solutions for glitches in the Obamacare website and financial woes of small towns that bought into the Prairie State coal-fired power plant in southern lllinois. Aegerter also serves as a news editor and producer of NBCNews.comâ€™s cover.
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