France’s most wanted ‘jailbreak king’ caught three months after Hollywood-style helicopter prison escape

France’s most wanted gangster has been caught three months after he pulled off a spectacular, Hollywood-style jailbreak in a helicopter that landed in his prison courtyard. 

Redoine Faïd, 46, a career criminal dubbed the “jailbreak king” and who has compared himself to Scarface, was arrested along with three others in a dawn raid in a housing estate in the Oise region north or Paris.

Dozens of masked police also seized his brother Rachid and two of the gangster’s nephews arrested along with the apartment’s landlady, according to police sources. Two guns were found in the flat, while two other alleged accomplices were arrested during a simultaneous raid in the Paris region, sources said.

Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, hailed the "meticulous" police work that led to the arrests, saying in a tweet that they had pulled off the high-stakes operation "without any clashes”.

Faïd, who previously escaped from prison in 2013 before being captured six weeks later, had been serving a 25-year term over a botched 2010 heist in which a policewoman was killed. He claims her death was accidental.

In his latest, audacious escape on July 1, two men posing as flight-school students forced a helicopter instructor at gunpoint to fly them to the jail where he landed in the courtyard – the only part of the prison not fitted with anti-helicopter nets.

Two black-clad men armed with assault rifles then jumped out and set off smoke bombs before breaking into the visiting room, where Faïd was meeting with his brother who was later taken into custody.

The wardens, who were unarmed, fled and raised the alarm. But within 10 minutes Faid had fled, to applause from fellow inmates.

The helicopter was found shortly afterwards in a suburb northeast of Paris, along with the shocked pilot, who had been beaten.

Police got their first break just days after his escape, which prompted soul-searching over prison security, when they uncovered a stash of guns, masks and a cement cutter in his native Oise region.

He then narrowly avoided capture on July 24 when he sped away from a police check north of Paris and had to abandon a car containing fake number plates and explosives. Police had recently conducted searches among the gangster’s relatives, but made no arrests.

According to BFM TV, police managed to locate Faïd after a bugged telephone led them to car, which led them to an address where they had observed “suspicious nighttime comings and goings”, including one particularly cautious individual.

Nicole Belloubet, the French justice minister, said: "Numerous clues were acted on so the arrest could be made.”

She said Faïd would be jailed in a high-security prison with "extremely tight surveillance” and would be prosecuted for his latest prison break.

The “jailbreak king” shot to fame after writing tell-all memoirs recounting how he had found his “calling” as an armed robber at the age of 12, and likened himself to Tony Montana from the film Scarface.

The book came out in 2010, shortly after his release from jail for a previous hold-up conviction. 

In a series of TV interviews at the time, he insisted his criminal career was over because it led to one of only two outcomes: “Death or prison.”

Yet within months he was arrested again over an attack on a cash-transport truck that lead to the death of a young policewoman.

His capture was made just hours before France’s interior minister, Gérard Collomb, resigned, sparking fresh political turmoil for president Emmanuel Macron. During the handover ceremony, Mr Collomb said Faid’s arrest proved that “the continuity of the state” was assured.