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Dramatic Prisoner Escape in France Leaves Two Guards Dead

A massive manhunt was underway in France on May 14, 2024, after a prison van was ambushed at a highway toll booth by four armed accomplices of prisoner Mohamed Amra, 30. He escaped in the ensuing shootout, which also killed two guards escorting him and seriously wounded three others. The four attackers and Amra, nicknamed “La Mouche”—or “the Fly”—escaped in two vehicles later found abandoned and burned.

Amra has an extensive record of mostly mid-level crimes, the latest a burglary conviction with an 18-month prison term handed down on May 11, 2024. But he is also suspected of having ties to the “Blacks,” one of several Marseilles drug-running gangs, which have been blamed for at least 50 fatal shootings in the past year. Amra’s suspected involvement in a gang kidnapping that turned deadly brought him from Val de Reuil prison to a court hearing in Rouen, after which he made his escape.

Prosecutors say that gang drug trafficking is exploding across France. One of them, Nicolas Bessone, said that the gangs were successfully bribing unnamed court workers in Marseilles, which is considered the epicenter of the country’s illegal drug trade. Before leaving the prison to attend the hearing, Amra made another escape attempt, sawing at the bars of his cell. That earned him a stint in a disciplinary unit.

The country’s Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, identified the slain guards as Fabrice Moello, 52, and Arnaud Garcia, 34. Theirs were the first on-duty deaths of any French prison guards since 1992, Dupond-Moretti added.


Sources: BBC News, CNN, The Independent

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