Notorious gangster in helicopter prison break

Most Wanted French Thief's Epic Jailbreak Dramatic Helicopter Escape

Most Wanted French Thief's Epic Jailbreak Dramatic Helicopter Escape

France's Justice Ministry said Redoine Faid's escape only took "a few minutes" and no one was injured or taken hostage at Reau Prison.

Police near a French helicopter abandoned by gangster Redoine Faid in Gonesse after his escape from prison in Reau, July 1, 2018.

Three heavily armed accomplices kidnapped a pilot from a local flying club, hijacked his helicopter and forced him to land on a portion of the prison that didn't have anti-aircraft netting.

In April 2013, Faid staged another shameless jailbreak by pulling a gun from his bag in the visitor's room of the prison near Sequedin in northern France and taking four prison guards hostage. After an worldwide manhunt that spanned dozens of countries, he was captured at a hotel east of Paris and locked up in a different prison.

But he was suspected of masterminding an attempted armed robbery in 2010 that led to a high-speed chase and a shootout with police in which 26-year-old policewoman Aurelie Fouquet was killed.

His fame has increased since then following appearances in several television shows and authoring books recounting his past and rise as a criminal in Paris' tough suburbs.

He was questioned by the police before being released in a state of shock.

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Months ago, a drone was spotted over the prison, which authorities now think may have been used to scope out an escape route. Two men dressed in black left the helicopter and using smoke bombs and power tools broke into the visiting room where Faid was meeting with his brother.

His wife, Nadine Vaujour, then picked him up in a helicopter and whisked him away to a football field, where they landed and drove away.

Nicole Belloubet, France's justice minister, has come under increasing criticism for the flawed security around Faid. Since the incident; the helicopter pilot was released from the hospital with no injuries, the helicopter itself was found in a town north of Paris, and Faid's brother has been taken into custody.

This is not Faid's first escape from a prison, either.

Faid has been behind bars since mid-2011 for breaking the terms of his parole over past convictions for bank robberies and brazen heists of cash-in-transit vehicles.

Prison officers described Faid as "polite" and said they had never had any trouble with him, "but we must always be wary", one supervisor said, according to AFP.

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