Brazil Trafficker Attempts Prison Escape Dressed as Woman

Authorities say that several individuals were involved in providing an inmate in Rio de Janeiro with female clothing, a wig and a mask designed to disguise the inmate so he could escape.

Drug trafficker and inmate at Rio’s Gabriel Ferreira Castilho Prison Complex Clauvino da Silva, dressed as a woman. (Photo: Release by Prison Officials)

Drug trafficker and inmate at Rio’s Gabriel Ferreira Castilho Prison Complex Clauvino da Silva, dressed as a woman. (Photo: Release by Prison Officials)

One of the visitors leaving Rio's Gabriel Ferreira Castilho Prison Complex was not quite like the others. So much so that when prison officials pulled "her" aside to investigate they discovered that under a silicon mask and wig was the male inmate Clauvino da Silva.

According to prison officials, da Silva attempted to use Saturday's visiting hours to escape from the prison, hoping that he could blend in with the other visitors leaving the facility.

Authorities said they arrested 42-year-old da Silva during his attempted escape in the gallery of Bangu 3. This is a part of the facility that houses some of the highest-ranking members of Rio's largest criminal faction, Comando Vermelho.

Da Silva is serving a sentence of 73 years and ten months for drug trafficking. He is one of 31 prisoners who previously escaped from the Gericinéo Prison Complex in February of 2013. Authorities recaptured him shortly after the break. 

 Da Silva daughter, Ana Gabriele Leandro da Silva, allegedly helped in Saturday's attempt. Authorities arrested eight other individuals suspected of involvement. One of da Silva's co-conspirators, who is alleged to have brought the mask, clothing, and wig is several months pregnant.

Da Silva demonstrating disguise to authorities. (Video: Release by Prison Officials)

Brazil's prison system is extremely over capacity housing over double the number of inmates for which it was designed. The country has the third-largest prison population on the planet with 812,000 incarcerated people but space for fewer than 418,000. The cramped conditions have resulted in prison facilities that are primarily dominated by drug factions. Criminal gangs often organize highly orchestrated prison escapes.

Violence inside of correctional facilities due to inter-gang conflict and overcrowding is common. Last week a riot in Altamira prison resulted in the murder of 58 inmates, 16 of which were beheaded. Recently the leaders of a drug faction told prison officials if they sent any more inmates to their facility the new arrivals would be killed. Prison officials are often outnumbered 10 to 1 and are onlookers when the violence breaks out.

In Rio de Janeiro, Governor Wilson Witzel said in February that he is planning to build a vertical prison in Bangu with the intention of housing 5,000 prisoners. This new facility would do little to relieve the state's overcrowding as several existing facilities need to be replaced.

For da Silva, authorities said that they had returned him to Bangu. However, with what is essentially a life sentence, there is little motivation for him not to attempt another escape.