French gangster escapes from prison using a helicopter

A notorious gangster is on the run after escaping by helicopter from a prison in the Paris region.

Redoine Faid was helped by three heavily-armed men with assault rifles.

Two gunmen in balaclavas used smoke bombs and angle-grinders to break into the visitors’ room where Faid was talking to his brother. A third man in the prison courtyard guarded the helicopter and its pilot – a flying instructor whom the men had taken hostage.

The escape helicopter was found in north of Paris

The helicopter flew to the nearby Gonesse area, where it was found by local police. Faid, 46, has been serving a 25-year sentence for a failed robbery during which a police officer was killed. This is the armed robber’s second prison break: in 2013, he escaped after seizing four guards as human shields and blowing several doors off with dynamite.

Nearly 3,000 French police have been drafted into the manhunt.

Timeline of a jailbreaker

  • Faid’s cycle of imprisonment and escape began with his arrest in 1998 on multiple counts of armed robbery and bank theft.
  • In 2009 he was freed on parole, swearing that he was a changed man – but by 2011, he had breached his terms of release and was back behind bars.
  • In 2017, Faid was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for his 2013 jailbreak from Séquedin prison, outside Lille. He was also given 18 years for masterminding a 2010 robbery in which a young policewoman, Aurélie Fouquet, was killed.
  • Faid mounted a failed appeal, and in April 2018 was given a heavier sentence of 25 years for the botched robbery. He was serving that term at the time of his latest escape.


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