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The helicopter was found later Sunday burned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris.

The helicopter that extracted Faid yesterday flew right across the Paris region from the jail to the south-east of the capital, before being dumped not far from Charles de Gaulle airport to the north-east of the city.

It is believed that the heavily armed men, who had guns, were dressed in black and wore hoods, demanded the prisoner's release.

Faid, who grew up in tough immigrant suburbs outside Paris, has made several television appearances and co-authored two books about his delinquent youth and rise as a criminal in the Paris suburbs.

Redoine Faid, France's notorious gangster dramatically flew away from a prison after his associates hitched him a ride in a hijacked helicopter.

At the same time, a helicopter landed in the prison courtyard, the only part of the complex not covered by anti-helicopter netting. Police believe Faid was transferred to a waiting getaway auto, which was also found ditched. Gunmen then took Faid from the visiting room and fled in the helicopter. 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. Faid's brother has been taken into custody for questioning.

French prosecutors have opened an investigation but it's not the first time that Faid, 46, has gone on the lam.

Faid was eventually recaptured six weeks later at a hotel in an industrial area on the outskirts of Paris. Faïd said he was inspired by American films such as Scarface and Heat.

Faid "led a gang involved in robbing banks and armored vans" in the 90s, the wire service adds, and was freed in 2009 after serving 10 years in prison. He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to the French media. In 2001, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for armed robbery.

But he was suspected of masterminding an attempted armed robbery in 2010 that led to a high-speed chase and a shootout with police in which 26-year-old policewoman Aurelie Fouquet was killed.

Before that incident, Faid had been released from prison after convincing the parole board that he renounced his criminal past.


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