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Helicopter jailbreak gangster Redoine Faïd arrested in France after months on the run

Philippe Huguen, AFP | File photo taken in April 2013 after Redoine Faid today blasted his way out of jail in Lille, France.

French career criminal Redoine Faïd, who made a Hollywood-esque helicopter jailbreak in July, was arrested in the Oise region north of Paris early Wednesday, according to French officials.

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A seasoned armed robber, nicknamed the "jailbreak king", Faïd was apprehended in the northern French town of Creil along with three other men including his brother, according to police sources.

The arrest followed a massive manhunt, which was launched after Faïd's daring helicopter escape from France’s Réau prison on July 1.

Faïd's arrest was confirmed by Gérard Collomb, France’s outgoing interior minister, whose resignation was accepted by President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.

French police officials “have demonstrated their commitment, pugnacity and their determination to enforce the law of the Republic. They have my admiration, as do the 250,000 police officers who serve our country every day,” said Collomb in a Twitter post.

A repeat offender – one who had already broken out of northern France’s Sequedin Prison in April 2013 with the aid of explosives – Faïd masterminded his second jailbreak using two heavily armed accomplices who used smoke bombs and angle grinders to break through doors and whisk him to a waiting helicopter.

The two men, posing as flight school students, 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.

‘Scarface’ was an inspiration

Faïd 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.

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 late Tuesday, according to a police source.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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