Notorious prison breaks

Career criminal Redoine Faid's audacious escape from a French prison Saturday, using smuggled explosives, has landed him on Interpol's "most wanted" list.

The 40-year old convicted armed robber used explosives hidden inside tissue packets to blast open five separate prison doors.

During the audacious break-out he took four wardens hostage, but released one just outside the prison, before driving off with the others in a getaway car.

Faid then released another guard several hundred yards from the prison, and the final two on a stretch of highway.

He then torched the vehicle near Lille, and got into another.

Authorities said Faid is armed, and possibly still possesses explosives.


Click through the gallery tabs above for a look at some other notorious prison escapes.

High-rise crime

Two convicted bank robbers, detained at a downtown Chicago lockup, used a rope made from bed sheets tied together to rappel down at least 15 stories to freedom in December 2012.

Authorities say the two escapees -- Kenneth Conley and Joseph "Jose" Banks -- apparently broke a cell window, pulled out the bars, then descended to freedom from the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center.

It was at least four hours later that they were found missing from their cell.

Hours later, the rope of sheets — at least 200 feet long and knotted every 6 feet — was still dangling down the side of the building.

Banks, known as the "Second-Hand Bandit," had been recently convicted of two bank robberies and two attempted robberies where he made off with a nearly $600,000, $500,000 of which is still unaccounted for. Conley was convicted of robbing nearly $4,000 from a bank the previous year.

Banks was captured within a few days. Conley eluded police for two weeks until he, too, was captured at a suburban apartment complex, where police said he was trying to disguise himself as an older man, wearing a beret and glasses and using a cane.

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 by Forbes magazine 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.

Air travel

On March 12, 2013, according to police, two men posing as tourists paid for a ride on a helicopter in Quebec, but once airborne forced the pilot at gunpoint to fly to the jail at Saint-Jerome, northwest of Montreal.

Once there, the two men lowered a rope, which two inmates climbed up to make a daring daylight escape.

With police in pursuit, the four men fled once the helicopter landed. One inmate and two accomplices were arrested about 30 miles north of the Saint-Jerome jail, after breaking into a cabin and exchanging gunfire with police. The escaped inmate even called a Quebec radio station to protest his innocence.

The second escapee was captured soon afterwards. All four men were arraigned on a variety of charges, from breaking and entering to pointing a firearm at police, fleeing from police, hijacking of an aircraft, and kidnapping.

Quebec provincial police tracked down the helicopter used to Mont-Tremblant, about 53 miles away from the jail; the chopper's pilot was taken to a local hospital for treatment of shock.

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.