MONTREAL — The search widened Sunday for three inmates who escaped with the help of a helicopter from a detention center in Quebec City a day earlier. It was the second helicopter-aided inmate escape in Quebec province in two years.

The three men escaped from the Orsainville Detention Centre around 7:45 p.m. Saturday. The chopper landed in the courtyard, which has barbed-wire fencing and a watch post, and then quickly took off with the three inmates, police said.

The escapees – identified as Yves Denis, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53, and Serge Pomerleau, 49 – were arrested on drug trafficking and gangsterism charges in 2010. Denis and Lefebvre were later charged with murder, police said.

In March of last year, a helicopter pilot was forced at gunpoint to pluck two inmates from the St-Jerome prison. Police caught the escapees within a few hours.