A high-ranking member of the Rock Machine biker gang died inside a cell at a Brandon jail Sunday morning. Police are now investigating what they call “suspicious circumstances” surrounding the death of a man at the Brandon Correctional Centre.

Officers went to the jail around 10 a.m. Sunday and found a 39-year-old man dead inside a cell. Brandon police would not say how the man died or confirm his identity, but sources told CTV News the man was Jean Paul Beaumont, a high-ranking member of Rock Machine.

Sources tell CTV News the man played a key role in the gang war between Rock Machine and the Hells Angels that stretched through the summer of 2011.

Beaumont was at one time known as a Hells Angels associate, but when he joined a rival biker gang, Beaumont became a target.

“Our members were called to Brandon Correctional Centre to the report of a suspicious death of a 39-year-old inmate,” said Const. Ron Burgess of the Brandon Police Service. “Our members responded, and our criminal investigation unit is currently investigating the incident.”

Last summer, Winnipeg police warned the public about escalating gang tensions after a number of violent incidents thought to be perpetrated by members of Rock Machine and the Hells Angels. Sources said the dispute was a result of a turf war in the city’s drug trade. Homes and businesses were shot at and one was firebombed. Many of the targets were gang members.

Beaumont was considered the muscle behind the Rock Machine, according to multiple sources. In November 2011, his home was shot at a number of times.

Beaumont has a lengthy criminal past. In 2006, the then 31-year-old was arrested after a gang-related shooting at a Corydon Avenue bar. Beaumont has since been convicted of a number of drug and weapons-related charges.

The Brandon Correctional Centre was put into lockdown while officers investigated his death. 

On Oct. 24, Brandon police announced that the victim had not been stabbed, despite early media reports.

Police said results of an autopsy are not being released at this time, due to the ongoing investigation.