A drug lord escapes from a prison hospital, dressed as his sister.

Mug shot of Lionel Luviano with a pencil mustache

Lionel Luviano


DOB: 8/8/73
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 120 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black
Defining Characteristics: Has scars on his chest


Man using pliers to break prison ankle cuffs

Did Lionel pull off the perfect escape?

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.

A man grabbing a wig and lipstick

A shave, a wig, and lipstick aids the disguise

According to Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Masaitis, a week after Luviano arrived, he had some unannounced visitors:

“Three individuals, two women and a man walked into LBJ Hospital, did not have to go through any security measures as this is not an institution.  Walked up to the third floor, to Lionel Luviano’s room.  They indicated they were going to visit the individual across from Lionel Luviano.  The guard was in a position to see them walk over to the other individual’s bed. So he felt comfortable in the fact, as would anybody, that they were just visiting the individual across the bed, who was not a prisoner and he was able to have visitors at any time of the day.”

Lionel grabbing his sisters clothing off of a hanger

Lionel wears his sister’s clothes

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:

“The guard outside of the hospital room was not surprised when he saw two women and a man leave the room, that’s who he’d observed walking into the room.”

Lionel dressed as his sister opens the door to a getaway vehicle

The trio leave the hospital unnoticed

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.





Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. Dwayne

    I’m interested in the comments people saying he’s alive and living in Mexico..are the authorities still looking for him? It’s been along time but I think he should stay free good on him but it’s just strange that they haven’t gone to Mexico to get him or looked into those comments about his wife’s Facebook.


    • Mathew

      Lionel Luviano’s charges were dismissed without prejudice, he could be charged and brought to trial again technicly but the laws not looking for him anymore and personally I doubt they would bother if they found him again.


  2. Pedrito

    Dejate de cochadeses


  3. Anonymous

    if he’s hiding out in Mexico, I just hope he is not sex trafficking young kids because there is a lot of human trafficking going on there


  4. Unknown

    That’s his wife’s Facebook. He is very much alive and still running the drug business in Reynosa. He has family here in Houston a son staying in Houston also. I wish I could share a picture of him that’s in his wife’s page. But I can’t share pictures.


  5. Bort Sampson

    Very odd he hasn’t been found yet, or even any signs of him. Seems to me that would mean one of two things:

    1. He’s still very heavily involved in the drug trade at some level or another – given he’s been gone this long that would seem to mean that he would be pretty high up by now. That seems sort of counter intuitive though, since in the past 20 years we know most of the higher ups that have come and gone in the various cartels.

    2. He was rescued only to be silenced by other members of his gang or a rival gang shortly after.

    Personally I think it’s probably a combination of both. His family helped him escape and he was able to escape to Mexico, but some time in the next few years he met his end from someone within his organization or a rival. I googled around and information about him outside of the unsolved mystery segment seems hard to come by, and there doesn’t seem to be any new information. I imagine if the authorities were still actively looking for him there would be more updates or more of a presence online, which leads me to believe they also believe he’s dead.


  6. Anonymous

    Is there a reward


  7. Tullu

    Is he still wanted?


  8. George

    Maybe his Drug associates helped in arranging his escape so they could silence him from later being flipped to testify against him.


  9. Anonymous

    He would be 42 years old, now.


  10. Paco Avila

    Lionel is living in Mazatlan Sinaloa, still in the game, no doubt.


  11. Steve

    Has anyone ever seen that man with scars around his neck before? Please leave a tip.


  12. Steve

    Has anyone ever that man with scars around his neck before? Please leave a tip.


  13. Steve

    Has any of you people ever seen that man in Mexico before? With or without a moustache? If you have, you need to contact your local police, now.


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