A notorious French gangster is on the run after three heavily armed accomplices landed a helicopter in the prison where he was being held and flew out with him.
Redoine Faid, 46, was serving a 25-year sentence for the murder of a police officer during a failed robbery in 2010.
“This was a spectacular escape. It was an extremely well-prepared commando unit that may have used drones to survey the area beforehand,” Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said.
Faid was being visited by his brother in Reau prison near Paris when the helicopter landed in the prison courtyard. 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.
A third man waited in the helicopter to watch over the pilot, a flight instructor who was taken hostage earlier in the day from a nearby airport. He was later released, in shock but with no physical injuries.
The helicopter was found in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris.
Faid’s brother is being questioned by investigators.
Faid has broken out of jail before. In 2013 he used dynamite to blast his way out of a prison in northern France. He was captured six weeks later.
Faid led a gang involved in armed robbery and extortion in the French capital during the 1990s. He has previously said his lifestyle was inspired by Hollywood gangster films, including Scarface starring Al Pacino.