Notorious gangster escapes French prison by helicopter

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By Pascale Davies  with REUTERS
Notorious gangster escapes French prison by helicopter
Copyright  REUTERS

One of France's most famous gangsters has escaped a prison in the Paris region by helicopter, according to local media.

Footage released by ACTU Pénitentiaire shows a helicopter leaving the premises as prisoners cheer. The recording was reportedly made by an inmate.

Three accomplices, who reportedly had Kalashnikovs, extracted Redoine Faïd from the Seine-et-Marne prison on Sunday.

According to sources, the gunmen arrived at the entrance of the prison to create a diversion.

Simultaneously, a helicopter landed in the prison courtyard, which was not covered by any nets. Gunmen then took Faid from the visiting room and fled in the helicopter.

The helicopter was found burnt out in Gonesse, a northeastern suburb in Paris. Police later found a burnt out black Renault, suspected of being the getaway car, in Aulnay-sous-Bois, another suburb of the French capital.

The 46-year-old is serving a 25-year sentence for a failed cash-transport van robbery in 2010 during which a police officer was killed.

Jean-François Forget, secretary general of the country's Penitentiary Union, said the prisoner “was in an isolation ward that had no special surveillance measures.”

This is Faïd's second prison break — in 2013 he escaped less than half an hour before arriving at a prison in northern France.

In that escape, he took four prison wardens hostage and blasted a number of doors with explosives before fleeing in two getaway cars.

He was on the run for six weeks before police captured him in a hotel with an accomplice.

In 2009 Faïd wrote a book about his past and rise as a criminal in Paris' suburbs. Faïd said he was inspired by American films such as Scarface and Heat.