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Brazilian Drug Trafficker Tries To Escape Prison Disguised As His Daughter

Authorities say jailed Brazilian drug trafficker Clauvino da Silva tried but failed to escape from a prison in Rio de Janeiro wearing this disguise.
Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary Administration Secretariat via AP
Authorities say jailed Brazilian drug trafficker Clauvino da Silva tried but failed to escape from a prison in Rio de Janeiro wearing this disguise.

When visiting hours ended at a prison outside Rio de Janeiro, a young woman made her way toward the exit before guards took a second look and pulled her aside. Turns out she wasn't a woman at all – but a well-known male drug trafficker.

Clauvino da Silva was sentenced to 73 years and 10 months in prison. His escape plan, prison authorities told local media, was to have his 19-year-old daughter visit the prison known as Bangu 3, disguise himself as her and then leave her behind in his place.

It might have worked, but authorities say the "woman's" air of nervousness signaled something was amiss.

A video released by a local lawmaker shows the odd and slightly creepy reveal.

First, it shows what might appear to be a young woman with long black hair wearing glasses and a pink shirt with images of doughnuts. One of the guards takes off "her" glasses and lifts off the black wig, revealing a strangely smooth head. Then the person in disguise peels off the pink shirt and a bra, revealing a muscular male frame with arm tattoos.

Then the person grabs what is now clearly a silicone mask and pulls it over his head. Underneath is a man in his 40s wearing a buzz cut, blinking indignantly. When asked, he says his name.

Da Silva, nicknamed "Baixinho," which means "Shorty," was a leader of the Red Command, which The Associated Press calls "one of the most powerful criminal groups in Brazil that controlled drug trafficking in a large part of Rio."

It's not totally clear how much da Silva's daughter knew about his plan. The BBC reports that she was questioned by authorities, along with seven other people who recently visited him because they think that's how he got his disguise.

"They suspect that one of them, a pregnant woman who was not searched by the guards, had hidden the wig and the glasses used by Silva on herself," the broadcaster reports.

Da Silva has some experience escaping from prison. According to Globo, he was among a group of at least 30 prisoners who escaped a facility called Instituto Penal Vicente Piragibe in 2013. That time, he left prison using the sewer system but was soon caught.

Brazil's prisons are notoriously violent. As NPR reported, at least 57 prisoners were killed during a prison riot last week in Pará state, at least 16 of whom were decapitated.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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