RIO DE JANEIRO • A Brazilian drug trafficker who had attempted to escape from prison disguised as his teenage daughter was found dead in his cell yesterday, officials said.
Clauvino da Silva, nicknamed "Shorty" or "Bajito" in Portuguese, made headlines after he was caught last Saturday trying to walk out the front door of a Rio de Janeiro jail.
da Silva, 42, wore a silicon mask, long dark wig, and spectacles, as well as white flip-flops, a pink T-shirt, blue denim jeans and a black bra belonging to his 19-year-old daughter, who was visiting him. She had planned to stay behind while he made his getaway.
da Silva was serving a 73-year jail sentence.
His daughter and seven other visitors were detained over the foiled breakout.
A video clip released by the state prisons administration department shows da Silva stripping off his elaborate disguise in front of officials.
Three days after his failed escape, da Silva, a senior member of the Red Command, one of Brazil's main crime groups, was found dead in his cell in a maximum security prison.
Officials said he appeared to have hanged himself with a bed sheet.
An investigation has been launched into his death.
da Silva's death is an embarrassment for Rio's prison authorities. They 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 eightfold 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.