Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras foils jail escape by murderer dressed as a woman

Francisco Herrera Argueta in disguise Image copyright Honduras police
Image caption Francisco Herrera Argueta's disguise did not fool guards at the San Pedro Sula jail

Prison officials in Honduras have told a convicted murderer who attempted to break out of jail disguised as a woman that he faces severe punishment.

Francisco Herrera Argueta, 55, clad himself in a long skirt, blonde wig, sunglasses and fake breasts while trying to make the escape.

He attempted to walk out of the maximum security jail with the families of other inmates paying a prison visit.

But he was caught when guards noticed his unusual way of walking.

They later noticed that he had a man's voice.

Argueta, a gang leader also known as Don Chico, was jailed in September 2015 for murder and firearms offences.

Image copyright Honduras police
Image caption Argueta's male voice also aroused the suspicion of guards

He now faces additional punishment for his attempted escape, with officials warning he may be transferred to El Pozo jail, widely regarded as the most dangerous prison in the country.

In his escape attempt he even went to the trouble of wearing blusher and paint his nails pink.

Argueta impersonated a female visitor to the prison in San Pedro Sula who left her identity card with guards while visiting inmates on Sunday afternoon.

He was caught as he tried to pick up the identity card at the jail's exit - when a guard asked him to remove his sunglasses. He had already passed through other security filters before he was finally stopped.

"The make-up couldn't hide the fact that he was a man," police spokesman Bayron Sauceda was quoted as saying.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Honduras has in recent years enjoyed some success in the fight against violent crime

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Honduras has in recent years tried to clamp down on violent crime. In 2011, it had a murder rate of 86.5 per 100,000 people, according to the National University's Violence Observatory.

By 2015, the rate had decreased to 60 per 100,000 - at the same time, neighbouring El Salvador has been climbing the ladder of violence with a national murder rate in 2015 closer to 100 per 100,000 people.

On Monday, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, announced he is setting up a commission to investigate lowering the age of criminal responsibility to under 18.

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