French thief makes dramatic helicopter escape from jail

Police examine the scene where the helicopter used in the jailbreak was abandoned

Police examine the scene where the helicopter used in the jailbreak was abandoned

The gang that helped free one of France's most notorious criminals from prison on Sunday used drones for reconnaissance as part of preparation for the jail break, the country's justice minister said Monday.

French-Algerian career criminal Redoine Faid broke out of a Paris prison on Sunday in a daring escape.

The helicopter was later found in a northeastern suburb of Paris about 60 kilometres from the prison, one source said, adding that a police search has been launched across the entire Paris region.

It is not the first time that Faid, 46, has escaped.

In April 2013, Faid staged another shameless jailbreak by pulling a gun from his bag in the visitor's room of the prison near Sequedin in northern France and taking four prison guards hostage.

According to Agence France-Presse, Faid has been sentenced to serve 25 years "for masterminding a May 2010 botched armed robbery, in which a policewoman was killed".

"Someone spotted this possible way out, and it could have been done using drones", Belloubet said.

The whole operation, which lasted just 10 minutes, was well planned with a smooth conclusion in the form of a helicopter escape, Delabroye said.

In this photo dated November 22, 2010, notorious French criminal Redoine Faid poses prior to an interview with French all-news TV channel, LCI, as he was promoting his book, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, France.

According to news channel BFM-TV, the breakout was pulled off while Faid was in the prison's visiting room around 11.30am local time.

This is the second faida escape from prison.

Brahim Faid's lawyer, Keren Saffar, said Redoine told his brother that someone was coming to get him and to stay where he was. He has said his life of crime was inspired by movies such as "Scarface" and "Heat".

Stephane Buy, an experienced pilot and instructor, told RTL radio on Wednesday that two men at a flying club near Paris forced him to take off Sunday at gunpoint.

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the jailbreak.

That same year, he wrote a book about growing up in Paris' suburbs and leading a life of crime, which he claimed at the time to have put behind him.

He spent years as an worldwide fugitive before his capture, and then a decade in prison, and then wrote an autobiography after his release on parole in 2009. "Behind all his manners-he is very polite-he always hid his game", the supervisor said.

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