A jailed gangster in France has escaped prison after being picked up by helicopter.
Three armed accomplices extracted Redoine Faid from the Seine-et-Marne prison, near Paris, late on Sunday morning, Le Parisien reported.
They landed in Gonesse, a northeastern suburb of the French capital, before reportedly continuing their escape by car.
Authorities later found a burnt out black Renault suspected of being the getaway car in Aulnay-sous-Bois, another suburb of Paris.
It was the second time Faid has pulled off a spectacular jailbreak – in 2013, he became the country’s most-wanted criminal after he blasted his way out of another prison using dynamite and briefly taking four wardens hostage before being recaptured six weeks later in a cheap hotel room.
He is a French-Algerian gangster, considered France’s most wanted criminal in 2013. After his first robbery he fled to Israel and learned Hebrew to avoid prosecution.
The assailants are thought to have changed vehicles, continuing their escape in a van, according to Le Parisien.
Jean-François Forget, secretary general of the country’s Penitentiary Union, said the detainee “was in an isolation ward, but had no special surveillance measures”.
He added the helicopter was registered in Belgium.
Last year, he was sentenced on appeal to 25 years in prison for masterminding a failed 2010 robbery, which claimed the life of a policewoman.
As a young delinquent in a troubled suburb north of Paris, Faid took his inspiration from American gangster movies.
“Take away the cinema and you would have 50 per cent less crime,” he once told Michael Mann, the director of Heat, his favourite film.
In a book of interviews and a TV documentary in 2010-11, Faid presented himself as the reformed symbol of a new generation of French organised crime.
He said he was known as “doc” or “brain” – a leader of the gangs from the troubled suburbs of French cities who had moved from drug dealing and petty theft to challenge the traditional Corsican criminal milieu of large-scale banditry.
After “30 years of crime”, of which he had spent 10 years in jail and three years on the run, it was all behind him, he insisted.
“My life has been a heap of shit,” he said. “On the run, I lived constantly in fear of death and the police … It was hell. I couldn’t see my family. That was tough. It makes you think.”