Mohammed Amra ‘The Fly’: Everything we know about ‘drug boss’ inmate on the run after armed ambush

Mohamed Amra was being transported from court to a jail in Evreux when his prison van was ambushed

Holly Evans,Barney Davis
Wednesday 15 May 2024 10:44 BST
Emergency services attend deadly police van ambush as prisoner escapes in France

A suspected drug boss is being hunted by hundreds of police officers after he escaped when his prison van was ambushed by armed gunmen in France.

Two prison officers were shot dead while three others were seriously injured during the shooting, which occurred in broad daylight on a motorway around an hour from Paris. Named as Mohammed Amra, 30, he is understood to be the boss of a narcotics network who is known by the nickname “La Mouche”, which translates to “The Fly”.

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Dramatic footage from the scene shows men wearing black sports clothes using automatic machine pistols, while horrified motorists look on.

The group then escaped with a large-scale nationwide manhunt ongoing. President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to find the perpetrators of the ambush, which has left a number other prison officers fighting for life.

Mohamed Amra is wanted by French authorities after being sprung from a prison van
Mohamed Amra is wanted by French authorities after being sprung from a prison van (Supplied)

What happened?

Video shows an ambush on France prison van carrying Mohamed Amra
Video shows an ambush on France prison van carrying Mohamed Amra (Supplied)

At around 9am local on Tuesday, 14 May, a prison van was ambushed by a group of hooded men near a tollbooth in Val-de-Reuil in Normandy.

Video footage appears to show a collision between the prison van and a black vehicle, while images have also appeared of the suspects carrying guns.

Fabrice Moello, a 52-year-old father of two, and Arnaud Garcia, a 35-year-old whose wife was five months pregnant, were killed in a hail of machine gun fire with two others still in critical condition.

The prisoner they were escorting, Mohamed Amra, was then able to escape with the gunmen in two vehicles, which were quickly abandoned and burned. According to local reports, the white Audi A5 was found ablaze in nearby Vatteville, Eure.

Nicolas, a lorry driver passing through the toll booth during the shooting, told BFM TV: “I noticed the hooded protagonists, dressed all in black, without police armbands and I started to say to myself, there is something wrong.

“There was a prison officer lying on the ground, with his hands on his head, who was moving. He had blood on his hands.

“There was a little moment when the heart palpitated a little, but there was nothing else to do.”

Yvon Barbier, a retired cattle farmer with land near the motorway, told Sky News that he heard “maybe 30 or 40 really loud gunshots”.

“It was so loud, and we didn’t dare go and check the cattle as I didn’t want to get shot… What could those guards do? They had pistols and the other guys had big, serious weapons.”

Hundreds of police officers have been mobilised to take part in the search
Hundreds of police officers have been mobilised to take part in the search (AFP via Getty Images)

Who is Mohamed Amra?

Police sources said Amra is an international drug trafficker, a suspect in a kidnap and murder case in Marseille, and had ties to the southern city’s powerful “Blacks” gang.

At the time of the prison van ambush, the 30-year-old was being transported to Evreux jail after attending a court hearing in Rouen.

French authorities tow a burnt out vehicle used in the attack
French authorities tow a burnt out vehicle used in the attack (AFP via Getty Images)

Le Parisien reports that he is nicknamed “‘La Mouche”, which translates literally to “The Fly” and was born in Rouen, northern France.

The convict had 13 previous convictions for several minor offences like driving without a licence, theft and refusing to stop for police.

Amra is nicknamed “The Fly” because of these convictions with a source saying: “He’s everywhere, like an annoying fly.”

Why was he being transported?

According to reports prison guards found Amra sawing through the bars of his cell two days before the attack.

The failed escape attempt prompted his relocation to a different disciplinary unit with his surveillance level bumped up.

His transportation still reportedly required a “level three escort”, which meant there were five prison officers travelling with him.

It was to prove a fateful decision to move him, as his prison van was attacked going through the toll booth.

How planned was the van shooting?

Amra’s lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told BFM TV that the violence of the incident did not correspond with the person he knew. He said Amra had tried to escape from prison on Sunday by sawing at the bars of his cell.

“This element suggests that there was an escape attempt in preparation,” Vigier said.

Mr Vigier said that his assistant had met with Amra on Tuesday morning.

“A short meeting, about an hour long was planned for this morning and my assistant saw Mr Amra and he was perfectly normal,” he said.

“He knew about [Tuesday’s] transfer so it is possible that he’d have told other people.”

His accomplices appeared to be fully informed because they were waiting at the motorway tollbooth.

“I would like to imagine that he is not involved, that he is not the sponsor, that he is not the co-organiser. It will not change the drama, but when you assist someone, you do not want to imagine that he is involved in such blind, dramatic, crazy, inexcusable violence.”

The convict had 13 previous convictions
The convict had 13 previous convictions (AFP/Getty)

What was The Fly in prison for?

Amra was sentenced to 18 months by the Évreux magistrates’ court last Tuesday for aggravated robberies from supermarkets and shops in the suburbs of Évreux between August and October 2019.

According to RTL, he had also been indicted in Marseille for “a kidnapping leading to death” and was being held at the Evreux prison on suspicion of ordering a murder on June 17 2022.

The charred body of a man was found in a burnt-out vehicle in Le Rove, near Marseille. The victim had been shot in the head.

An unsuccessful hit he allegedly ordered was filmed by terrified tourists in Marbella in July last year. According to Le Parisien, the Spain contract was part of a drugs turf war between Amra and a rival known as “Mehdi”.

His rival then reportedly ordered a revenge hit in Evreux that same month in which two people died, one of them close to Amra.

Grab from video showing moment car rammed into police van carrying the ‘Fly’ – posted by BBC
Grab from video showing moment car rammed into police van carrying the ‘Fly’ – posted by BBC (BBC)

Who were the gunmen?

Le Parisien reports the identities of Mohamed Amra’s henchmen are still unknown but Amra has a vast network in the Normandy drug scene, including “young killers ready to pull the trigger for him”.

“La Mouche” is also described as having comfortable financial resources, drawn from savings from his cannabis trafficking operation, allowing him to finance a long run from police.

Where are police looking?

Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said “several hundred police officers” were now hunting Amra and the gunmen.

French police have discovered two burnt cars used by the attackers. One of the vehicles, a Peugeot, was used to ram the police van, while the other, an Audi, followed the cops and carried the two gunmen, Paris state prosecutor Laure Beccuau told a press conference.

According to investigations, in their escape, “La Mouche” and his accomplices left the highway quickly after the attack to take a secondary road.

They abandoned their two vehicles, including a BMW M5, in the Normandy countryside in Houetteville before setting them on fire around 11.25am.

The gang then disappeared in a third vehicle, an Audi Q5. It appears that all of the vehicles used were reported as stolen.

What do Amra’s family say?

Amra’s mother said that she had no idea that he would escape. “He doesn’t talk to me. He’s my son, he doesn’t talk to me about anything at all,” she was quoted as saying in the BBC report.

She broke down after hearing about the ambush. “…how can lives be taken away in this way?” she told RTL.

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