Notorious gangster flees French jail by helicopter

Posted July 02, 2018

The helicopter was found abandoned and torched in Garges-les-Gonesse, a town in the suburbs north of Paris.

The helicopter that extracted Faid yesterday flew right across the Paris region from the jail to the south-east of the capital, before being dumped not far from Charles de Gaulle airport to the north-east of the city.

A union representative at Reau Prison, Martial Delabroye, told BFM television that two men dressed in black, wearing balaclavas and police armbands entered in the prison to look for Faid.

Faid, 46, has been serving a 25-year sentence for a failed robbery during which a police officer was killed.

"An armed commando group landed in the courtyard of the Sud-Francilien prison in Reau while he was in the visitors' room", the authority said.

Redoine Faid, France's notorious gangster dramatically flew away from a prison after his associates hitched him a ride in a hijacked helicopter.

The prison courtyard it landed in was the only one not fitted with anti-helicopter nets as it is used by inmates exclusively when they are being admitted to or released from the jail. In 2013, he took four prison guards hostage, then used dynamite to blasted his way out, fleeing in a waiting getaway vehicle, only to be recaptured six weeks later. He took families, couples and once a police officer hostage during the years-long spree, according to the Telegraph.

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French prosecutors opened an investigation into the escape.

The crime took place when Faid's brother was visiting him.

Faid's accomplices took hostage a flying instructor from a small flying school in Fontenay-Trésigny commune, and ordered him to fly to the prison. Faid's brother has been taken into custody for questioning.

Faid fled on Sunday with three accomplices, according to the sources. Shortly after, he said he was renouncing crime, the AP says, and wrote a book about his early life and his rise through criminal networks in France.

Faid is not the first prisoner to escape in a helicopter. He was recaptured six weeks later at a hotel in suburban Paris - but not before he briefly claimed the title of France's "public enemy number one", the Independent reported.

Still, he was the suspected mastermind of the attempted armed robbery in 2010 that led to a high-speed chase and a shootout with police that killed 26-year-old Aurelie Fouquet.