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French gangster who broke out of prison in daring escape is captured

From Marilia Brocchetto and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 7:15 AM EDT, Thu May 30, 2013
French gangster Redoine Faid is back in custody after an audacious jailbreak last month.
French gangster Redoine Faid is back in custody after an audacious jailbreak last month.
  • NEW: Faid grew a beard and wore a wig while on the run, prosecutor says
  • He spent more than 10 years in prison, insisted he'd changed, then was arrested again
  • Faid held guards at gunpoint and used explosives to burst through a prison's doors last month
  • Authorities issued a European arrest warrant covering 26 countries

(CNN) -- French gangster Redoine Faid, the subject of an international manhunt after his brazen escape from a prison last month, is back in custody, the country's Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Faid held five people, including four guards, at gunpoint at a detention center in the northern city of Lille on April 13, officials said.

He then burst his way to freedom, detonating explosives to destroy five doors.

Early Wednesday, French police arrested Faid, labeled France's "public enemy No. 1," at a hotel in the Seine-et-Marne region to the east of Paris, the ministry said.

Between 70 and 80 police officers took part in the predawn raid, Lille prosecutor Frederic Fevre told reporters. Faid was asleep and offered no resistance when police entered his hotel room.

French gangster blasts out of prison
Gangster blasts his way out of prison

An accomplice was with him in the room and has been taken into custody, Fevre said. Police found one firearm in the room and another in a car parked nearby.

During his six weeks on the run, Faid had worn a wig and let his beard grow in order not to be recognized, Fevre said.

He'd changed location frequently but has connections in the area where he was caught, the prosecutor said.

"When you are on the run, you need a lot of money and you need to separate yourself from all your close relatives," said Fevre.

He suggested Faid had failed to meet one or both of these requirements.

As well as the jailbreak, Faid is suspected in the murder of a policewoman in 2010 and faces a possible life sentence, Fevre said.

However, he won't go back to the Sequedin prison from which he made his audacious escape, Fevre said. The four guards Redoine took hostage in April are still on medical leave, he added.

Inspired by the movies

Faid fashioned himself as a modern-day gangster.

He thought big -- getting inspiration from the movies, as when he wore a hockey mask like Robert DeNiro's character in "Heat" -- and acted boldly, attacking armored trucks among other targets.

In his 2010 autobiography, "Robber: From Suburbs to Organized Crime," Faid chronicled his progression from a petty thief to one of France's most notorious criminals.

In 1998, after three years on the run during which he fled to Switzerland, Faid was finally caught. Sentenced to 20 years, he ended up spending more than 10 years in high-security prisons around France.

After getting out, Faid put himself out there -- not only with his book, but as the subject of numerous interviews.

The Frenchman insisted he'd sworn off his wicked ways.

This promise didn't last for long.

In 2011, Faid landed back behind bars.

There he stayed until his dramatic escape last month.

Authorities issued a European arrest warrant covering 26 countries, and Interpol worked to track him down as well.

On Wednesday, that hunt came to an end.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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