Drones — Accessory to a Crime?
It was a prison escape that wouldn’t have looked
out of place in a Hollywood action movie.
At least three armed associates of notorious
French gangster, Rédoine Faïd flew a hijacked
helicopter into the grounds of Réau prison, south of
Witnesses watched in shock as the helicopter flew
in and the operation to help 46 year old Faïd escape
got underway. Three men leaped from the helicopter
before letting off gas canisters to disorientate those
nearby. They then used a grinding machine to destroy
a door that led to the visitor room where Faïd was
According to France’s justice ministry, the drama
was over in just “a few minutes.”
The helicopter was flown to a spot 37 miles
away, where a car was waiting for them. The pilot was
It later emerged that the helicopter had landed in
a part of the prison that did not have anti-flight netting
over it as it was ordinarily used by visitors only.
Hobby drone assistance?
Nicole Belloubet, France’s justice minister, revealed
on Monday that investigators suspect camera-equipped
hobby drones may have been used by Faïd’s gang
for reconnaissance missions in the lead up to the
Drones had been spotted flying over the prison
multiple times in recent months, leading the authorities to suggest a possible link to the jailbreak.
“Someone spotted this possible way out, and it could have been done using drones,” Belloubet said.
Faïd was serving 25 years for the murder of a cop during a robbery in 2010. Before that, he’d served
jail time for armed robberies of banks and vans transporting cash. It’s also not the first time he’s launched
a spectacular breakout. In 2013, he escaped from a different prison by using explosives to blast his way out.
He was caught six weeks later.
A nationwide hunt for Faïd and his gang is currently underway.
While we’ve heard plenty of stories about hobby drones being used to fly contraband into prisons, it’s
the first time where they may have been used to survey a jail ahead of acts like this.
Quadcopters and the like are a growing problem for prisons, with the small machines able to fly right
into the grounds with little difficulty. In 2017, a drone gang was jailed in the U.K. for flying contraband —
including drugs, weapons, and phones — worth a total of $1.3 million into five different prisons on nearly
50 occasions over two years. A number of high-tech solutions have been tested, but the wide-scale rollout
of a particular system is yet to take place.
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