French Kingpin Busts Out Of Jail Like A Bond Villain

Helicopter Escape
"Off to the secret headquarters!"

Like something out of a movie, a notorious French bank-robber was broken out of prison yesterday by three heavily-armed men who flew in on a helicopter.

Redoine Faid was the leader of a gang of armed robbers who operated in Paris in the mid-1990s. The son of Algerian immigrants, Faid was eventually caught in 1997 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

He was released on parole after only ten years, and swore he had given up his life of crime. (He wrote a memoir and had a book tour and everything.) But after masterminding an armed robbery that left a young police officer dead in 2010, he was recaptured and sent back to prison.

But that wasn’t the end for Redoine Faid. In 2013, he broke out of the Sequedin prison using explosives. He blasted through five separate prison doors, and even held four guards hostage during the escape. The bombs he used had apparently been smuggled to him in tissue boxes.

Faid broke out in mid-April. By late May, the French police had him in custody again, and it was back to the slammer for old Redoine.

But there’s a new development in this story.

Yesterday, just before noon, Faid was broken out of the Reau prison by three armed men dressed in police uniforms. They tossed smoke grenades to hide themselves from cameras, and landed their helicopter in the one part of the prison not covered by anti-copter netting.

The chopper was hijacked, flown by a local pilot from a nearby air-club who was forced to assist at gunpoint. He was released unharmed by the four men after they later landed the aircraft.

Faid’s accomplices arrived in their chopper as he was meeting with his brother in the prison’s visiting room. They used an angle grinder to break open the door into the visiting room and extract Faid. The brother, left behind, was later taken in for questioning by police.

The whole breakout only took a few minutes, according to French police authorities. The prison guards were unarmed, and unable to stop the breakout. (How mild are French prisons that they don’t arm the guards? Or do they just keep all the weapons in a lock-up in case of riots and the guards simply couldn’t get to the weapons in time? Who knows.)

It’s not known how long this breakout was in planning, but French authorities did say that drones had been spotted flying over the prison a few months before. Although those could easily have been making run of the mill contraband drops; drones are commonly used for that sort of thing now.

Regardless of how he planned this getaway, Redoine Faid is back on the run now. The man loves freedom, I suppose.

It just remains to be seen whether the gendarmes love to chase him more than he loves to run.

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Andrew McNealy
Andrew McNealy has been writing and reporting for more than three decades, including stints at major news outlets and publications. He has been married to his wife, Susan, since 1978, and together they have three children and two grandkids.