French drug traffickers take violence to new level with prison van ambush

A motorway attack that claimed the lives of two prison officers in France this week marks a new level of violence by the latest generation of drug traffickers, police officers and experts told AFP.

On Tuesday, gunmen attacked a prison van at a motorway toll in northern France, killing two prison officers and freeing a convict linked to gangland drug killings.

The officers guarding Mohamed Amra, 30, were armed with pistols while the assailants attacked with military-grade assault weapons.

The killings and dramatic getaway by the perpetrators, who used a stolen Peugeot to ram the prison van, shocked France.

"I had never seen anything like that," veteran police officer Jean-Francois Maugard told AFP.

Read moreWhat we know about France’s ‘The Fly’ and his deadly prison van escape

The former divisional commander spent nearly 25 years in the anti-organised crime squad of the Paris judicial police, tracking down the likes of Italian bank robber Antonio Ferrara and Redoine Faid, a career criminal nicknamed the "getaway king."

"It's not even banditry, because banditry isn't that. In fact, we're hearing from some big crooks who don't understand (this) at all," the now-retired police officer said.


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