Redoine Faid's brazen escape and other notorious prison breaks

Redoine Faid escapes: It wasn't the first time that Faid, an armed robber being held in the death of a police officer, had gone on the lam. Here are a few other notorious prison escapes.

Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
A special police officer stands guard in front the jail of Sequedin near Lille, northern France, April 14. Redoine Faid, an inmate, used explosives and took hostages to escape out of jail on Saturday morning, local media reported.

Redoine Faid's escape from a French prison landed him on Interpol's most wanted list Monday, two days after he took four guards hostage and used explosives hidden inside tissue packets to blast his way out of a prison in Lille. Faid freed his hostages along his getaway route.

It wasn't the first time that Faid, an armed robber being held in the death of a police officer, had gone on the lam. He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to the French media. Faid was freed after serving 10 years of his 31-year sentence, then swore he had turned his life around, writing a confessional book about his life of crime and going on an extensive media tour.

"When I was on the run, I lived all the time with death, with fear of the police, fear of getting shot," he told Europe 1 radio at the time.

Here's a look at other notorious prison escapes:

HIGH-RISE CRIME

Two bank robbers, onetime cellmates at a downtown Chicago lockup, used a rope made from bed sheets tied together to drop 20 stories to freedom in December 2012. Authorities say they apparently broke a cell window, pulled out the bars then descended to freedom from the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center. Hours later, the rope of sheets — at least 200 feet (61 meters) long and knotted every 6 feet (2 meters) — was still dangling down the side of the building. Both men were recaptured within weeks.

DIRTY LAUNDRY

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman spent months corrupting his guards at a Mexican prison, then tricked them into thinking they would get a cut of some gold being smuggled out of the prison the night of Jan. 19, 2001. Instead, he smuggled himself out on a laundry cart with the help of a maintenance worker on his payroll. Security camera footage from that night disappeared and computer records of the vehicles entering and leaving the prison were erased. Guzman has since risen to the top of the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's most powerful international drug trafficking network, and has been in hiding ever since. He is considered to be among the world's richest men.

ESCAPE FROM SAN QUENTIN

In 1979, bank robber Forrest Silva Tucker and two other San Quentin inmates built a kayak out of plastic sheets, wood, duct tape and Formica. The vessel held together just long enough for the three to paddle a few hundred yards to freedom. A few years later, police said, Tucker joined the Over-the-Hill-Gang — a group of elderly thieves who robbed Boston-area supermarkets. Tucker was visiting a girlfriend in Florida in 1999 when he was caught again.

KNITTING NEEDLES

George Blake, a British double agent, used a ladder made of rope and knitting needles to escape Wormwood Scrubs jail in 1966, five years into his 42-year sentence for treason. With the help of accomplices, he made his way to the border of East Germany hidden in a secret compartment inside a camper van. Blake ended up in the Soviet Union and still lives in Russia, where he receives a KGB pension and last year celebrated his 90th birthday.

THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY

Ronnie Biggs was part of a gang that stole sacks containing 2.6 million pounds sterling from a Glasgow-to-London mail train in August 1963. The haul from what was dubbed the Great Train Robbery would be worth more than 40 million pounds ($60 million) today. Biggs escaped from prison in 1965 by scaling a 30-foot wall with three other inmates. Styling himself "the last of the gentleman crooks," Biggs charged $50 — later hiked to $60 — for visitors to join a barbecue at his home where they could also buy the T-shirt: "I went to Rio and met Ronnie Biggs ... honest." He spent decades thumbing his nose at British authorities from his home in Brazil before returning to Britain aboard a plane chartered by a tabloid newspaper. Biggs was freed from prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds after a series of strokes.

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