Prisoner Found Dead After Recent Disguise Escape Attempt Guards said they saw a woman acting nervous as she neared the exit Saturday. They discovered she was a man, a drug trafficker facing decades in prison. Now authorities say he took his own life.
NPR logo Brazilian Prisoner Who Tried To Escape In Female Disguise Found Dead In His Cell

Brazilian Prisoner Who Tried To Escape In Female Disguise Found Dead In His Cell

Clauvino da Silva was caught trying to slip out of a Rio de Janeiro prison complex Saturday, disguised as a woman. Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Prison Administration via Reuters hide caption

toggle caption
Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Prison Administration via Reuters

Clauvino da Silva was caught trying to slip out of a Rio de Janeiro prison complex Saturday, disguised as a woman.

Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Prison Administration via Reuters

Updated on Aug. 6 at 8:40 p.m. ET

Prison authorities say a man sentenced to decades in prison for drug trafficking has died in his cell after a failed attempt to escape while disguised as a woman.

He apparently died by suicide, according to a prison statement, which also says an investigation has been opened.

When visiting hours ended at the prison, outside Rio de Janeiro, this past weekend, a young "woman" made her way toward the exit before guards took a second look and pulled her aside. They discovered that she was in fact Clauvino da Silva, who was serving a sentence of 73 years and 10 months.

What was apparently a nervous young woman leaving a Brazilian prison turned out to be a masked inmate attempting to escape. Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Prison Administration via Reuters hide caption

toggle caption
Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Prison Administration via Reuters

What was apparently a nervous young woman leaving a Brazilian prison turned out to be a masked inmate attempting to escape.

Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Prison Administration via Reuters

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 what might appear to be a young woman with long black hair. One of the guards lifts off the black wig, a silicone mask and the rest of the disguise. Underneath is a man in his 40s. 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 in 2013 tried to break out of another prison by using a sewer system. According to Globo, he was among a group of at least 30 prisoners who escaped but were soon recaptured.

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.


If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.