Helicopter Prison Escape Foiled – 500 Bullets Fired, Guards Tipped Off

Four inmates including a well-known crime boss tried to fly out of a Greek prison

Guards at a Greek prison have stopped an attempted escape from the Trikala facility, which included four prisoners flying off in a helicopter.

According to Ekathimerini, three men have been arrested for trying to help convicted killer and well-known crime boss Panayiotis Vlastos break out from prison.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that four prisoners have tried to make a run for it in the chopper, one of whom has been injured.

While the names of the other three prisoners haven't been released at this point, they are all Albanian nationals.

Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis has said in a statement that guards have been tipped off regarding the racketeer's plans to escape.

“We had information that there were some jails we needed to keep an eye on, including Trikala prison,” Roupakiotis says.

The men in the helicopter started shooting at prison guards, during the incident that occurred on Sunday afternoon, February 24.

Approximately 500 shots have been fired, and the aircraft has been forced to land outside prison walls. Police detained a Greek, a Romanian and an Albanian national, recovering a Kalaskinov assault rifle and two Uzis.

Vlastos has been shot in the leg during the foiled escape attempt, most likely as he was trying to reach the helicopter. His accomplices sent down a rope ladder, which he attempted to climb. In the midst of the fire exchange, he fell 5 meters (16.4 feet) to the ground.

The incident marks the fourth escape attempt for Vlastos, who has to serve a life-in-prison sentence. He last tried to break out by holding hostages in December 2011, but failed and eventually gave in.

He has been linked to a Greek “crime syndicate,” reportedly masterminding the kidnapping of ship-owner tycoon Periklis Panagopoulos, according to the Examiner.

He is dubbed one of Greece's most dangerous criminals, also responsible for murder and blackmail.

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