The Maze, located about 10 miles (16 km) west of Belfast, opened in 1971 and housed many of the most notorious offenders during the Troubles. There were several escape attempts from the maximum-security prison before it was closed in 2000. But a 1983 breakout by 38 IRA prisoners was the biggest event in the history of the Maze, once considered one of the most escape-proof prisons in Europe. With guns smuggled into the prison, the escapees, led by Bobby Storey and Gerry Kelly, took over H-Block 7, killing one guard and wounding several others. When a van delivering food supplies arrived, the men took the passengers hostage and used the vehicle to escape. Within a few days of the break, 19 prisoners were apprehended (including Storey, who received an additional seven years for his participation). The remaining 19 were shuttled to safe houses and some were sent to the U.S and other countries (a few died or were killed while on the lam). Kelly and Brendan McFarlane, another escape leader, were eventually returned to the prison after being extradited from Amsterdam.
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