French gangster breaks out of prison in a helicopter

France's Justice Ministry Nicole Belloubet said the escape took only "a few minutes".

It is not the first time that Faid, 46, has escaped.

The ministry added that the prosecutor's office had launched an investigation and a search operation had been put in place by police. The incident began when three men created a diversion by starting a gunfight outside the jail. Faid and the hijackers also allegedly torched two getaway cars which were found after the escape.

They lit smoke grenades as they made their way towards the gangster - with guards ordered not to shoot for fear of causing chaos inside the prison grounds.

Footage of the unbelievable moment notorious French gangster Redoine Faid broke out of prison in a helicopter has been shared online.

He was on the run for six weeks and had changed his appearance before police captured him in a hotel in an industrial area on the outskirts of Paris with an accomplice.

Although he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for these activities, he was released on parole after 10 years.

Faid, who was once the most-wanted criminal of France, pulled off an earlier prison break in April 2013 when he took four prison guards hostage and used explosives hidden in tissue packets to blast his way through several gates.

Faid said his life of crime was inspired by films such as Scarface, and has co-authored two books about his time in gangs in the suburbs of Paris.

For his latest escape, the helicopter, hijacked from a flight instructor, landed in the prison yard at around 11:15 am.

In 2013, he managed to escape a prison in Lille, France.

Faid, who has said he was inspired by U.S. films such as "Scarface" and "Heat", was serving 25 years in Reau prison for his part in a botched robbery of a cash-transport van near Paris in 2010, which he masterminded and in which a 26-year-old policewoman was killed.

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

The helicopter was later found abandoned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris. "Behind all his manners - he is very polite - he always hid his game".

In his 2013 jailbreak, he briefly took four guards hostage before escaping in a waiting vehicle.

Three armed and well-trained men then reportedly presented themselves and demanded Faid's release.

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