A few "loyal unidentified accomplices" helped infamous French gangster Redoine Faid escape from a prison in the southern suburbs of Paris, authorities said more than 48 hours after the audacious breakout.
On the morning of 1 July, on the territory of the prison raided, three men armed with guns and masked men who demanded the release of 45-year-old Faida (at this point he was in the room for visits, where he talked with his brother).
Faid's brother, Brahim, was visiting him at the time of the escape.
In 2013, he took four prison guards hostage with a pistol before using dynamite to blow his way out of jail and fleeing in a waiting getaway auto.
According to the BBC, Faid has said his lifestyle was inspired by Hollywood gangster films, including "Scarface". The 46-year-old is believed to have fled in a auto with the armed accomplices.
The courtyard that they landed the helicopter in is the only one in Réau that doesn't have helicopter nets on it. Helicopter escapes from prisons in France were relatively common up until the late 2000s.
It was not the first time Faid has escaped a French prison.
Two of the men reportedly burst into the visiting room while the third waited in the prison courtyard and watched over the helicopter pilot, a flying instructor whose chopper the men hijacked in a nearby airfield.
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Media reports said the pilot had been released and was not injured.
The helicopter was later found in a northeastern suburb of the French capital, they said, adding that a police search has been launched across the entire Paris region.
Officials said drones seen buzzing above the prison months ago may have been on a reconnaissance mission ahead of the escape.
Faid was sentenced to 25 years in the 2010 death of a young policewoman killed during a botched robbery. He was re-captured six weeks later.
A vehicle abandoned by French robber Redoine Faid at O'Parinor shopping mall parking after his escape onboard a helicopter from a prison in Reau on July 1, 2018.
According to excerpts of emails published by the Le Figaro newspaper, regional authorities had warned the prison administration of a "serious threat" of Faid escaping.
In the 1990s, Faid led a criminal gang involved in the armed robbery of banks and armoured vans transporting cash.
One of Faid's most recent prison supervisors has stated he was never in conflict with guards, but that "we must always be wary".