What to know about the deadly escape of French prisoner 'The Fly'

Two prison guards were killed in the brazen escape, officials said.

May 15, 2024, 10:51 AM

A manhunt involving hundreds of law enforcement officers continued Wednesday for a fugitive prisoner dubbed "The Fly" and accomplices wielding machine guns who facilitated the convicted criminal's escape by ambushing a prison transport van at a toll booth and gunning down two guards, authorities said.

The international police organization Interpol issued a worldwide red alert for the fugitive identified by authorities as 30-year-old Mohmed Amra after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said authorities are concerned that Amra has fled the country.

"We are investing considerable resources, we are making a lot of progress," Damanin said in an interview with the French radio broadcaster RTL.

PHOTO: Evreux-prison-gty-ml-240515
An undated mugshot of French inmate Mohamed Amra, also known as "The Fly." is seen here.
Handout via Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron stated on the social media site X: "Everything is being done to find the perpetrators of this crime."

"We will be uncompromising," Macron added, describing the escape as a "shock to us all."

The escape unfolded Tuesday at a toll booth near Rouen, about 85 miles north of Paris, as a white prison van transporting Amra from court to a penitentiary was ambushed, according to French authorities.

The attack was captured on security video, officials said.

PHOTO: This photograph taken on May 15, 2024 shows the main gate of the Evreux prison.
This photograph taken on May 15, 2024 shows the main gate of the Evreux prison.
Lou Benoist/AFP via Getty Images

At least five prison officers were escorting Amra when their van was rammed head-on by a stolen car at the toll booth and men wearing balaclavas to conceal their faces opened fire on the van with automatic weapons, authorities said.

Two of the officers were killed and three were wounded as the assailants hustled Amra, a suspected drug gang leader, from the van to a waiting vehicle that whisked him from the scene, officials said.

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The attack lasted just two minutes, French media reported.

As hundreds of law enforcement officers combed the country for Amra and his accomplices, investigators reviewed CCTV video from dozens of security cameras near the toll booth in an attempt to identify those involved in the daring escape. The attack was also captured by dashboard cameras of vehicles nearby, officials said.

PHOTO: This photograph taken on May 15, 2024 shows an outside view of the Evreux prison.
This photograph taken on May 15, 2024 shows an outside view of the Evreux prison.
Lou Benoist/AFP via Getty Images

Amra was convicted on May 10 of burglary by a court in Evreuz and was being held at the Val de Reuil Prison, according to Laure Beccuau of the Paris Prosecutor's Office. Beccuau told reporters that Amra had also been indicted recently in a kidnapping that resulted in a homicide.

Amra's defense lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told the French television station BFMTV that the escape came less than a week after Amra was caught attempting to break out of prison by sawing the bars of his cell.

Vigier called Tuesday's violent escape "inexcusable" and "insane."

"This does not correspond to the impression that I had of him," Vigier told BFMTV.

The escape was the most brazen to occur in France since 2018 when notorious gangster Redoine Faid broke out of the RĂ©au prison by a helicopter that was hijacked and whose pilot was forced to land in the prison courtyard by heavily armed accomplices. Faid was recaptured about three months after the prison break.

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