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How drones helped a French gangster escape prison

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One of France’s most notorious criminals has successfully escaped from a French prison – and drones helped him do it.

The prisoner, gangster Redoine Faid, is renowned for robberies targeting armored vehicles and is also reportedly a big fan of films like Scarface and Heat. On Monday, French justice minister, Nicole Belloubet, told reporters that several months prior to his escape, multiple drones were witnessed hovering over the grounds of Reau Prison (which is south of Paris). The drones are speculated to have been piloted by accomplices of Faid who were casing out the grounds for the team that ultimately came to Faid’s rescue.

A view of Reau prison from above.

How did he escape?

On Sunday, an intricately planned operation was underway. First, a small helicopter landed in the prison’s courtyard carrying three men armed with assault rifles and as well as a pilot (who was being forced to fly). Two of the men used smoke grenades and angle grinders to break into a visitor rooms in which Faid was meeting with his brother. The third man remained onboard the helicopter, guarding the pilot and the craft. After plucking Faid from the room, the men bundled Faid into the chopper and flew from the prison grounds to safety. The helicopter was later discovered abandoned in Gonesse, a city North of Paris.

This was Faid’s second successful escape from a French prison in the past five years. The first incident came in 2013 when he used dynamite to blast his way out of his cell, briefly took four prison guards hostage and was recaptured six weeks later staying at a cheap hotel.

Faid, 46 was serving a 25-year sentence for armed robbery and the murder of a policewoman in 2010. Since his escape, a massive manhunt involving 2900 French police officers was launched.

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