A Brazilian drug lord who attempted to smuggle himself out of prison while dressed as his own daughter before being caught has been found dead.
Clauvino da Silva, 42, had been serving a 73-year sentence in Bangu prison, Rio de Janeiro, when he was caught trying to break out of jail wearing an elaborate disguise on Saturday.
Guards caught him and returned him to his cell, where he was found dead on Tuesday having apparently hanging himself with a bed sheet.
The Rio prison authority said it had launched an investigation into the death.
Da Silva – nicknamed ‘shorty or ‘bajito’ in Portuguese – had brought his daughter for a prison visit on Saturday when he launched his audacious escape attempt.
While she hid herself from guards, he slipped into a silicone mask, wig, glasses and her clothing including a pink top and bra before trying to sneak out.
However, officers noticed that the woman they thought was Da Silva’s 19-year-old daughter was moving ‘awkwardly’ and decided to pull her aside.
Once in an interrogation room they discovered the woman was actually Da Silva in disguise.
The guards then posted a video of the gangster being undressed online, which made news around the world.
According to local reports, Da Silva had planned to leave his daughter behind in his jail cell.
A spokesperson for Rio’s State Secretary of Prison Administration (Seap), said: ‘Clauvino was wearing a pink t-shirt with a black bra underneath, had long black hair, tight jeans, white sandals, a coat and glasses but even though he had the face of a girl, he didn’t move like a woman.
‘Officers were suspicious of his appearance, particularly as he was in the middle of seven other women visitors who were leaving the prison and who appeared to be deliberately surrounding him to shield him from being seen clearly by us.’
A video recorded by agents shows officers taking off the convict’s wig as he stands motionless with his hands behind his back.
The young looking face appears convincing except that the mouth and the facial muscles do not move when he responds to agents’ instructions to remove his clothes.
He mumbles through the mask: ‘I shouldn’t have to take everything off.’
To which agents warn: ‘This is not the time to mess around. Just take off the clothes. No one is going to do anything to you here.’
As the convicted criminal undresses, his arms display tattoos, appear more muscular and darker than the face.
The last item to be removed is the mask and reveals the face of one of the most dangerous drugs bosses of Rio de Janeiro’s largest criminal faction, the Red Command.
According to Seap, da Silva took advantage of visiting hours and exchanged clothes with his daughter, Ana Gabriele, who was left hiding inside the jail.
Seven other female visitors, one of them pregnant, were also suspected of aiding the attempted escape. They were taken to a police station for questioning along with da Silva’s daughter.
Agents suspect the pregnant woman was carrying the disguise as it is against rules for her to be searched when she enters a prison.
Seap spokesperson said the episode was an ‘act of despair’ by desperate imprisoned drug traffickers.
Officers revealed that the high security complex, which houses many chiefs of Rio de Janeiro’s Red Command, had been on lock down for weeks with the seizure of over ‘7,300 mobile phones this year, the withdrawal of perks and jewellery such as diamond and gold rings.’
The spokesperson said: ‘The only thing for the Red Command to do is to attempt an unusual form of escape.’
Da Silva, who is serving a life sentence of 73 years and 10 months, was one of 31 prisoners who broke out of jail in February 2013 through sewage networks.
He was arrested shortly afterwards and returned to prison.
Following his thwarted plan, the trafficker has been transferred to another high security prison and faces disciplinary sanctions.
Prison system chiefs have launched an inquiry into how the venture was carried out and why it nearly succeeded
The death of Silva will come as an embarrassment for Rio’s prison authorities, which had initially cheered their actions in preventing his unusual escape plan.
He is the latest prisoner to die in Brazil’s jails, which have become a major headache for new tough-on-crime President Jair Bolsonaro.
Last week, at least 57 people died after a prison riot broke out in the northern state of Para. More than 50 inmates died in similar circumstances in May during prison riots in the northern state of Amazonas.
Brazil’s incarcerated population has surged eight-fold in three decades to around 750,000 inmates. Prison gangs, originally formed to protect inmates and advocate for better conditions, have come to wield vast power that reaches far beyond prison walls.
The gangs are linked to bank heists, drug trafficking and gun-running, with jailed kingpins running their empires via smuggled cellphones.