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EXPLAINER: Who is The Fly and what is his criminal history?


A high-profile hunt is still in operation for Mohamed Amra. /Lou Benoist/AFP
A high-profile hunt is still in operation for Mohamed Amra. /Lou Benoist/AFP

A high-profile hunt is still in operation for Mohamed Amra. /Lou Benoist/AFP

A prisoner nicknamed 'The Fly' has become notorious in France overnight after a daring and bloody escape from a prison convoy in Normandy.

Hundreds of police are scouring northern France for Mohamed Amra, who was freed by gunmen in a brazen attack on occupants of a prison van that killed two guards and wounded three.

The 30-year-old has a long and violent criminal history that has now culminated in this high-profile manhunt.

Known as 'La Mouche' or 'The Fly', Amra has also been referred to by other aliases such as 'Yanis', 'Momo', and 'Schtroumpf' (Smurf). According to French media, these nicknames reflect his elusive nature and extensive activities.

Amra was born on March 10, 1994, in Rouen, a port city on the Seine River. His adolescence was a colorful one, marked by early run-ins with the law. 

His first offenses occurred between the ages of 11 and 14, involving violence, theft and extortion, according to the Paris public prosecutor. Growing up in a troubled environment in Normandy, he quickly became entangled in a life of crime.

By the age of 15, Amra was already infamous among local law enforcement. Recently sentenced for burglary by the judicial tribunal in Evreux on May 10, he is also under investigation for an attempted organized homicide in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and a kidnapping that resulted in death. 


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Paris public prosecutor Laure Beccuau stated that Amra had significant connections with Marseille's organized crime syndicates and was suspected of heading a drug trafficking network.

He was recently detained at the Val de Reuil prison center near Rouen following his recent sentencing for burglary. Previously, he was incarcerated at La Sante prison in Paris and Les Baumettes in Marseille. Despite not being classified as an inmate of the highest level of risk, he did require high security during his transfers, necessitating an escort of three guards, which was recently increased to five, according to officials.

Just days before his escape on Tuesday, Amra attempted to saw through the bars of his cell, leading to his placement in isolation, officials said. Guards had discovered he was using tape to conceal his actions, according to French media.

Amra's extensive criminal record reads like a dark novel - armed violence, extortion, drug trafficking, and organized crime. 

He has been described as "versatile and opportunistic" by police, engaging in a range of criminal activities to bolster his income. According to Le Monde, this includes orchestrating kidnappings and extortions from his cell using encrypted messaging apps like Signal.

Amra's escape and violent history have made him a symbol of the challenges faced by French law enforcement in combating organized crime and ensuring the security of high-risk prisoners. 

The national search for 'The Fly' continues as authorities remain determined to bring him back into custody, and the assailants to justice.

EXPLAINER: Who is The Fly and what is his criminal history?

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Source(s): AP
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