A convicted art thief was found by the Brazilian Federal Police to be running an international ring from a prison in Rio de Janeiro, selling stolen art works in neighboring countries, media reports said.
Laessio Rodrigues de Oliveira, who studied information science, began serving a 12-year prison sentence in 2007 for stealing and falsifying art works, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on its Web site.
The 39-year-old Rodrigues de Oliveira has been running the ring from the Bangu prison in Rio de Janeiro.
The ring stole art works from museums and libraries in the Brazilian states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, selling them to collectors in Argentina, Uruguay and even Brazil.
Rodrigues de Oliveira, who staged robberies at the request of collectors, "is the biggest thief of rare works in the country," police said.
The convicted art thief used cell phones, letters and messages carried by visitors to run the ring.
Rodrigues de Oliveira first gained notoriety in 1998, when he stole 14 antiquarian magazines and newspapers worth $750,000 from the National Library in Sao Paulo. EFE