Rédoine Faïd Escapes from Lille Prison, Manhunt Ensues

Sequedin Prison in Lille, France, where Faïd was being held until his escape. Photo: Flickr.com/orchestre national de lille (officiel)

Sequedin Prison in Lille, France, where Faïd was being held until his escape.
Photo: Flickr.com/orchestre national de lille (officiel)

In what CNN described as an event “that went as if scripted for a suspense film,” notorious French gangster Rédoine Faïd escaped from a Lille prison where he had served the past two years of his most recent sentence.  A wanted criminal in the 1990s after a series of armed-truck robberies, Algerian-French Faïd famously drew from celebrated crime films—such as Robert DeNiro’s  1995 “Heat,” and Al Pacino’s “Scarface”—in orchestrating his criminal activity.

“Movies, for me, were like a user’s guide for armed robbery” he told the LCI news channel in a 2010 interview.  That year he released an autobiography exploring his rise from petty thieving as a juvenile delinquent to becoming a gangster kingpin, titled Robber: From Suburbs to Organized Crime. 

France 24 reports that after being sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1999, Faïd was released in 2009.  He was taken back into custody in July 2011 for parole violation and ordered to serve out the remaining eight years of his sentence.  He faced as much as 30 years for alleged involvement in a 2010 robbery that resulted in the death of a policewoman.  That all changed, however, on Saturday, April 13 when Faïd executed his brazen and daring escape from the Sequedin prison.

Agence France-Presse reports that Faïd blasted his way out of jail with a series of explosives after taking four prison guards hostage at gunpoint.  Faïd managed to blast through five successive prison doors and escape in a getaway vehicle, which he later abandoned and set on fire.  Described as a “particularly dangerous prisoner” by French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, Faïd is now being pursued by INTERPOL after a Europe-wide arrest warrant was issued.

Taubira indicated the manhunt for Faïd would initially focus on Belgium due to its geographic proximity to Lille, but that the entire Schengen zone would be on alert as well.

Faïd is reported to have received a visit from his wife Saturday morning, and CNN reported she is believed to be a person of interest regarding Faïd’s acquisition of explosives.

According to the Ufap-Unsa Union, the Sequedin prison where Faïd had been held was designed for 638 inmates but currently houses 800.  Wardens unions argued Saturday that the Sequedin jail does not possess the resources to deal with such dangerous inmates, and that detainee searches are not thorough enough, reports the AFP.

“The [prison’s] construction…makes it particularly difficult to manage detainees, who are particularly difficult to watch,” explained former associate director Jimmy Delliste to BFMTV.

As of this writing, Faïd remains at large.

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