A notorious French criminal is on the run after pulling off a brazen escape in a helicopter from a prison near Paris.
According to the Associated Press, Redoine Faid, who is serving 25 years for failed robbery and murder of a police officer, previously escaped another prison in 2013 using explosives hidden in packs of tissues before being rearrested a month later.
Faid pulled off his latest escape at around 11:20 a.m. local time on July 1, 2018, according to the BBC. Three gunmen dressed in balaclavas and armed with assault rifles landed a stolen helicopter in the Reau Prison courtyard. The pilot of the helicopter had been taken hostage from a nearby flying club.
Police later found the helicopter burned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris. Faid and his accomplices are believed to have ditched the airplane and escaped by car. The pilot was later released with no physical injuries, according to AP.
France’s Justice Ministry Nicole Belloubet said the escape took only “a few minutes.”
“It was an extremely well-prepared commando unit that may have used drones to survey the area beforehand,” she said, according to the BBC.
The manhunt is ongoing and an interior ministry official told AFP that nearly 3,000 French police were recruited for the search.
Faid, a 46-year-old gang leader, committed his first bank robbery in 1990, and was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to local media. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail but was released on parole after ten years. In 2009 he wrote a memoir, and claimed to have given up a life of crime.
But he was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of masterminding a robbery that resulted in the death of a police officer.
According to the BBC, Faid has said his lifestyle was inspired by Hollywood gangster films, including “Scarface.”
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