DAILYNEWS UG France’s most famous gangster on Sunday made a spectacular jailbreak with the help of three heavily-armed accomplices who landed in his jail in a helicopter and flew out with him on board.
Redoine Faid was being visited by his brother in Réau prison in the Paris region when the men burst into the room on Sunday morning and extracted him.
A third man waited in the helicopter in the prison courtyard to watch over the pilot, a flying instructor whose aircraft the men hijacked in a nearby airfield and whom they forced to take part in the dramatic operation.
It was the second time Faid, 46, has pulled off a spectacular jailbreak.
In 2013 he became the country’s most-wanted criminal after he blasted his way out of another prison using dynamite. He briefly took four wardens hostage before being recaptured six weeks later in a cheap hotel room.
Faid, who has said he was inspired by US films such as “Scarface” and “Heat”, was serving 25 years in Réau prison for his part in a botched 2010 cash-transport van robbery that he masterminded.
The helicopter that extracted him on Sunday flew right across the Paris region from the jail southeast of the capital, before being dumped not far from Charles de Gaulle airport to the northeast of the city.
Above: They managed to whisk him away in a helicopter (pictured after it landed about 40 miles away) which had been flown into the prison courtyard
The aircraft was then set alight but was only partly damaged and the fire was extinguished when police found it a short time later. Media reports said the pilot had been released and was not injured.
The prison courtyard it landed in was the only one not fitted with anti-helicopter nets as it is used by inmates only when they are being admitted or released from the jail.
Spectacular helicopter jailbreaks became a regular embarrassment for French penal authorities until the late 2000s, but have petered out since prisoner exercise yards in most jails were equipped with nets to prevent choppers from landing.
After the helicopter that flew Faid out of jail was torched, its occupants fled by car in a black Renault Megane which they later dumped in the underground car park of a shopping centre near the airport.
They switched to a white van with the company name Enedis marked on the vehicle. A huge manhunt has been launched to track them down. All police and gendarme units across Paris were put on alert and ordered to set up checkpoints that “take into account the dangerousness of the fugitive and his possible accomplices.”
A union representative at Reau told BFM television that “two men dressed in black, wearing balaclavas and police armbands” entered the prison to look for Faid and used a grinding machine to cut open the door that directly leads to the visiting room.
Faid was serving a prison sentence for his role in the 2010 hold-up of a cash-transport van in the Paris area, in which a 26-year-old policewoman was killed. She was shot as the gang fled and used kalashnikov assault rifles to fire at police cars pursuing them along the busy A4 motorway.
Two members of the gang are currently serving lengthy jail sentences for her murder.
Faid has made several television appearances and co-authored two books about his delinquent youth and rise as a criminal in the Paris suburbs.
In one of those published in 2010 he claimed he had given up his life of crime.
Prior to the 2010 robbery, he had been released from a previous stint of a decade behind bars after convincing parole officials that he regretted his criminal past and was determined to start afresh.