Up to five armed men rushed a police transport vehicle on Tuesday and freed a drug kingpin who was being taken back to prison after a routine medical check up in a hospital.
As the prisoner and guards were about to step into a van outside the Delafontaine hospital around 11am in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis, the attackers piled out of a car and threatened the guards, French daily Le Parisien reported. He was to be taken back to the prison in Villepinte.
The assailants then sprayed the guards with tear gas and escaped with 40-year-old Ouaihid Ben Faïza, who is one of the bosses of the drug trade in the gritty town of La Courneuve, north of Paris. The escape vehicle was found abandoned minutes later and in flames.
Faïza's been behind bars since July 2011 for a smuggling operation that saw marijuana brought from Morocco into the Netherlands and finally to France. The operation netted him an eight sentence in prison. His brother was also convicted in connection with the smuggling.
While on trial Faïza wasn't willing to admit to much.
"It’s clearly you in the wiretaps, Mr. Ouaihid Ben Faïza, who’s placing the orders,” a judge said, referring to an order for 23 kilos of marijuana.
Faïza disagreed with the judge's assessment, saying, “I have nothing to do with drug trafficking. I’ve already been incarcerated for it. It would have been stupid to get back into it."