A drug lord escapes from a prison hospital, dressed as his sister.
From the tender age of 17, Lionel Luviano enjoyed the life of a wealthy playboy. He had cars, motorcycles, expensive clothes, and plenty of girlfriends. It was the spoils of being one of the biggest drug traffickers in the southern United States. But on August 4, 1994, the police brought his lavish lifestyle to a sudden end. After a six-month sting operation, 21-year-old Lionel Luviano was arrested in Houston, Texas. Despite his young age, he was a key figure in an international drug ring that reportedly moved nearly a quarter of a million dollars in heroin every month.
With his arrest for heroin trafficking, Luviano faced the very real possibility of spending the best years of his life behind bars. Luviano, however, had no intention of trusting his fate to the legal system. Shortly before his arrest, he had wrecked his motorcycle and sustained serious injuries. While awaiting trial, authorities had no choice but to let him continue his medical treatments—outside of jail—in a private facility. Luviano was transferred to a guarded room in Houston’s LBJ Hospital, where he was shackled to his bed 24 hours a day. Luviano shared his room with a total stranger named Vasquez Martinez.
According to Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Masaitis, a week after Luviano arrived, he had some unannounced visitors:
In reality, one of the visitors was one of Luviano’s sisters, accompanied by two other family members. Believing they were armed, Vasquez Martinez could only look on in stunned disbelief. Lionel was in the midst of a total makeover. He was fitted with a wig and a two-piece woman’s suit. According to Deputy Masaitis, Lionel Luviano was about to make his escape masquerading as his own sister:
Luviano’s sister stayed behind. With a concealed gun, she kept the bewildered Vasquez from sounding the alarm. She would later slip away during the confusion following the discovery of Luviano’s escape. The clever charade had gone exactly as planned. Luviano’s accomplices were later captured, but the cross-dressing drug lord remains on the lam. Authorities believe he may be living in Mexico and should be considered armed and dangerous.