French Gangster Escapes Prison in Hijacked Helicopter
In a scene that seems more cinematic than plausible, a notorious French gangster managed to escape from prison in a hijacked helicopter on Sunday, July 1, 2018.
A massive manhunt is now underway for Redoine Faid, age 46, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison last April after an appeals court found him guilty of planning an armed robbery that left a policewoman dead back in 2010. He was being kept in a prison near Paris.
Faid was talking to his brother in the visiting room when a helicopter landed at the prison. Two men dressed in black emerged, made their way inside using angle grinders and smoke bombs, then absconded with Faid, all within the space of about ten minutes. The prison's wardens, not having weapons, fled to raise the alarm.
According to Martial Delabroye, a representative of the prison union, the courtyard used to land the helicopter did not have anti-aircraft netting because it is not regularly used by the prisoners.
Faid's brother has been taken into custody. Meanwhile, the helicopter's pilot―a flight instructor who was hijacked while waiting for a student to arrive, and subsequently forced to help the criminals―has been found alright, but in a state of shock.
This is not the first time that Faid has managed to pull off such a daring escape, either―back in 2013, he used dynamite to blast his way out of a different prison in the northern part of the country. He took four hostages in that incident, all of whom were unharmed; he was found and recaptured six weeks later.
A massive manhunt is now underway; according to a police source, "2,900 police and gendarmes have been mobilized" and are searching all throughout the country.
The helicopter has already been found in a Parisian suburb about 60 kilometers from the prison. Police have also discovered a burnt car that they believe Faid and his men used afterwards.
Nicole Belloubet, the Justice Minister, has hypothesized that the criminals used drones to case the prison before undergoing their plan.
Faid is an interesting character. Nicknamed "the Author" due to having written two books about his youth, he has a strong following in the immigrant-heavy suburbs where he grew up and has been described as very charismatic and polite. He once managed to talk his way into being paroled, only to quickly return to masterminding crimes once free.
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