French Gangster Uses Helicopter To Escape In Dramatic Prison Break

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It was the second time he had escaped from a French prison - the last time he blasted his way out with hidden explosives.

He fled with three accomplices, according to the sources.

It says "an armed commando landed in a helicopter in the courtyard as the prisoner was in the visiting room" of Reau Prison, south of Paris.

This is not Faid's first escape from a prison, either.

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.

A huge manhunt is under way in France after infamous gangster Redoine Faid escaped from a prison in the Paris region on Sunday using a helicopter.

Police later found the helicopter burned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, north of Paris.

His latest escape, from Reau Prison, took only "a few minutes", France's Justice Ministry said.

They tried to burn it out to destroy the evidence, but it was found quickly by the police and put out.

He was arrested again in 2011 for his role in a botched robbery in which a 26 year old policewoman was killed, though Faid said he had nothing to do with her death.

He was on the run for six weeks before police captured him in a hotel with an accomplice.

Faid has a violent criminal record dating to at least the 1990s, when he organized the robberies of banks, shops and armored vehicles.

Faid, a notorious career thief, once managed to talk his way out of a 10-year sentence by convincing parole officials he was a changed man who regretted his past actions. Two members of the gang are serving lengthy jail sentences for her murder.

Police nicknamed him "The Author" for two books he co-wrote about his delinquent youth. "Take away the [lessons taught by] cinema and you would have 50 percent less crime", he once told Michael Mann, the director of Heat (1995), his favourite film.

"In the corner of his mind, he never lost the idea of escaping".

Delabroye, the prison union representative, said that the yard the helicopter landed on is the only area which is not equipped with anti-aircraft netting. "Behind all his manners - he is very polite - he always hid his game".