Paris: A gangster who made a Hollywood-esque helicopter jailbreak has been arrested in northern France after three months on the run, sources close to the inquiry said early Wednesday.
Notorious French robber Redoine Faid was apprehended during the night in the Oise region north of Paris along with three other men including his brother, one source said, confirming earlier media reports.
A massive manhunt was launched after Faid’s daring July 1 escape, in which two heavily armed accomplices used smoke bombs and angle grinders to break through doors and whisk him to a waiting helicopter.
Faid, a career criminal with multiple convictions for armed robbery, was sprung from the prison in Reau, 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Paris.
Two men posing as flight school students, who had already taken an introductory flight, forced a helicopter instructor at gunpoint to fly them to the jail.
The terrified pilot landed in the courtyard — the only part of the prison not fitted with anti-helicopter nets — prompting a heated debate in France about whether the country’s prisons are secure enough.
Faid had been serving a 25-year term over a botched 2010 heist in which a policewoman was killed, though he claims her death was accidental.
Around 100 specialist police were deployed to track down the 46-year-old, who narrowly avoided capture just weeks after his flight and had to abandon a car carrying explosives.
Faid had escaped from prison once before, for six weeks in 2013.
He has cited movie baddies such as Tony Montana in “Scarface” as an inspiration and said he discovered his “calling” at the age of 12.
In July investigators found a stash of guns, masks and a cement cutter in the Oise region, which they believed belonged to his gang.
Weapons were also seized in the raid on Tuesday night in the town of Creil which unfolded without incident, according to the source.