Colombian helicopter pilot arrested in connection with planned prison break

Police guard in a detention center
Police guard in a detention centerPhoto: Politie

A Colombian pilot was arrested in Paris in connection with an attempted jail break in the Netherlands last month. He was meant to fly a hijacked helicopter that was supposed help criminal gang leader Benaouf A. break out of the prison in Roermond.

The 54 years old Colombian pilot was previously found in the company of two Amsterdam criminals in a traffic check in the Netherlands. He was arrested in Paris on October 31st for his suspected involvement in the attempted jail break. The French authorities then proceeded with his extradition to the Netherlands. On Monday the Court of Amsterdam remanded him into custody for 90 days.

Benaouf A. was sentenced on appeal to 12 years in prison for involvement in the assassination of Amsterdam criminal Najib Bouhbouh in Antwerp in 2012. The Amsterdam police got wind of plans for his prison break, and prevented the helicopter hijacking from succeeding. 

At the moment there are six suspects in police custody for the failed escape plan: the Colombian and five criminals from Amsterdam. Two suspects are 19 years old and the others are 21, 24 and 26. The French Jaouad Aaros (30) was shot and killed by the SWAT team on the day of the attempt. The Rijksrecherche - the department that handles internal investigations in the police - is still investigating the fatal shooting. The police are still searching for further suspects, including a man in his twenties from Amsterdam whose passport and phone was found in one of the cars chased. 

Even without the police intervention, the group of Amsterdam criminals had little chance of successfully breaking Beanouf A. out of prison. Around the yard of the prison in Roermond, wire cables were installed that would have prevented the helicopter from landing. So the plan would have been to have Benaouf A. climb to the helicopter with a rope, which is very difficult. On top of that, the protocol in prison states that the inmates have to be brought inside immediately if a helicopter is spotted nearby. 

After the failed escape attempt Benaouf A. (33) was transferred to a high security prison in Vught.

The suspects will appear before the judge for the first time on January 3rd.