Police say a man facing murder charges for gang-related killings in B.C. in 2012 has escaped from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and they're asking for help locating him and two alleged accomplices.
Rabih "Robby" Alkhalil, 35, escaped the corrections centre, about half an hour's drive east from Vancouver, on Thursday night. Coquitlam RCMP said staff at the facility informed them of the escape at 7:30 p.m., and they are asking for the public's help tracking down Alkhalil.
"Time is of the essence and we need your help to get Alkhalil's face in every airport, train station, taxi, rental car or anywhere else that he may be hiding," RCMP Const. Deanna Law said in a news release.
By Friday afternoon, Mounties said they had tentatively identified the two suspected accomplices. Police have not released any information publicly about who the men are but said there are strong international connections that span Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia.
"Based on the new information and the identifications, it is more important than ever that we find Alkhalil," Law said.
Police said Alkahil is considered dangerous. Anyone who sees him is asked to stay away and call 911.
Alkahil is described as:
A 35-year-old man.
With short black hair and brown eyes.
5'10 tall (178 cm) and weighs 166 lbs (75 kg).
Last seen wearing a black jump suit and a high visibility vest.
The two unknown suspects in the escape are both described as a bald white men who appear to be in their 30s. One has a narrow face, arched eyebrows and a slightly crooked nose, while the second has an oval face, light eyebrows and close-set eyes.
In a statement, police said Alkhalil left in a white Econoline van with two men who were "posing or employed as contractors."
"The van left North Fraser Pre-trial at approximately 6:48 p.m., and travelled westbound on Kingsway Avenue," Law said. "The RCMP is working closely with B.C Corrections and the investigation is ongoing."
Police confirmed Saturday that they have located the van, which is being forensically examined.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth described the situation as "concerning" in a written statement.
"People should please listen to the police and do not approach the suspects. Call 911 if you see them," he said.
Stock images used
CBC reached out to police Saturday morning after receiving a tip that the images of Alkhalil's alleged accomplices, previously released by police, are stock images.
Police later released a statement, confirming the images are stock and "do not represent the suspects themselves."
"It is believed that the suspects who helped Alkhalil escape bear a close resemblance to the photos ... but those images are not them," said Const. Deanna Law.
Alkhalil's escape is not the first at the pre-trial centre, which was built to hold around 300 inmates. Two prisoners walked out the front door by posing as different people within a few months of each other.
In the first case, a jail guard helped a high-profile inmate escape by letting him dress up as a janitor and leading him through four security gates to freedom in November 2007. The guard, Edwin Ticne, was promised $50,000 in exchange for his help.
Ticne pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and accepting a bribe and was sentenced to three years and three months behind bars. The inmate was Omid Tahvili, said to be the kingpin of an Iranian-Canadian organized crime family. He was never recaptured.
In the second instance, prisoner Dean Sykes posed as another prisoner who was scheduled to be released and walked out after attending a court hearing in August 2008. He was arrested several days later in Hope, nearly 130 kilometres away.