After six weeks on the run following a dramatic prison break, France’s “most wanted man” has been captured by police in a hotel room outside Paris.
Redoine Faid, a famed 41-year-old career gangster, was arrested in the early hours of this morning at a cheap B&B in Pontault-Combault, about 20 kilometres east of the capital.
Police said he was arrested with an accomplice and that weapons were seized at the scene.
Interior minister Manuel Valls hailed police for the “thorough and effective” investigation that led to Faid’s capture.
French officials had warned that the fugitive was considered armed and “especially dangerous”.
“He was extremely surprised when the door burst open,” said Frédéric Ploquin, a journalist who has met Faid on several occasions and has written books about him.
The fugitive, who was apparently wearing a wig and a false beard when he was captured, did not resist arrest.
Faid had evaded the police since dynamiting his way out of jail in Séquedin, near Lille, in April.
He took four guards hostage at gunpoint before blasting his way through four gates, using explosives concealed in a box of paper tissues, before an accomplice drove him away after he reached the prison car park. They then abandoned the car and their final hostage and drove away on the motorway in a second vehicle towards the Belgian border 10 miles away.
The lifestyle criminal, born to Algerian parents in the Paris suburb Creil in 1972, was already notorious before being jailed for robbing a security truck. In his latest stint in jail, he was awaiting trial for complicity in the murder of Aurélie Fouquet, a policewoman killed three years ago in a shooting which he is suspected of being tied to.
Faid faced a potential life sentence for his alleged role in Fouquet’s death.
He was sought by Interpol who suspected that he might have fled abroad. But now it appears that he may not have had enough money to fund his escape.
Clients at Faid’s hotel said they heard shouts of “police, police, open up” before the operation began. The hotel receptionist told France2 television that she had suspected nothing and that Faid had been “polite” when he paid cash in advance for two additional nights at the hotel on Sunday.
He has co-authored two books about his delinquent youth and rise as a criminal in Paris’s impoverished suburbs, saying his life of crime was inspired by American films such as Scarface and Heat.
He modelled himself on France’s notorious gangster, Jacques Mesrine, who also serialised his life.