Notorious French gangster escapes from prison in a helicopter

A police manhunt has since been launched across the entire Paris region.

"This was a spectacular escape. It was certainly a very well-prepared [prison break]", French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said during a news conference Sunday outside the prison.

Faid, 46, was reportedly assisted by at least three armed accomplices who picked him up by helicopter from the Reau prison courtyard, in the southeatern suburbs of Paris, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

Faid was convicted of the murder of the policewoman, along with two accomplices. They used a grinding machine to open the door to the visiting room, Martial Delabroye, a representative of the guards' union, told BFM television.

This picture taken on July 1, 2018 in Aulnay-sous-Bois, shows a forensic police officer investigating a auto abandoned by French armed robber Redoine Faid at O'Parinor shopping mall parking after his escape onboard a helicopter from a prison.

Redoine Faid is believed to have fled with three armed accomplices after ditching the helicopter used in the prison escape.

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Earlier Sunday, Faid's associates had taken a helicopter pilot hostage at a nearby flight school, forcing him to fly to the prison, the BBC reported.

Police later found the helicopter burned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris. Police believe Faid was transferred to a waiting getaway vehicle, which was also found ditched.

Faid took his inspiration, and modus operandi, from American gangster movies.

A well-known French criminal has escaped from prison by helicopter, the country's prison authority has said. Faid was talking with his brother at that time.

Faid has made several TV appearances and co- authored two books about his delinquent youth and rise as a criminal in the Paris suburbs. He received an eight-year prison sentence in 2011 - interrupted by the 2013 breakout. He escaped once before, from the Sequedin prison in 2013, using explosives to bust out of prison with the assistance after taking four guards hostage.

French outlet BFMTV reports that the men, hooded and dressed in black, burst into the room at around 11:20 local time (09:20 GMT) on Sunday, demanding Faid's release. Last year, he was given 10 years in prison for the 2013 prison break.

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