As told to Kevin Duffel, this is the full version of an excerpt that ran in our May, 2011 issue.
Adelmo Jr. describes going to one of the craziest jails in Brazil and getting his dreads shaved off as a result of a misunderstanding dealing with taxes.
The end of November, I came to Brazil for a skate trip. When I was coming back to California, at the airport, I showed my passport and security said, “We have something wrong.” They asked Delta Airlines to bring all my bags from the plane and we went to the station. They told me I was under arrest. They told me that I had a problem dealing with the sale of leather–my dad has sold leather for over 40 years. Ten years ago, he was governor at the time, and was using my name to make a few sales. By doing that, I was wanted in 2002 for tax problems. My accountants never said anything was wrong. But then what ended up happening was some of the taxes that were paid were not paid in the right amount, so they opened a criminal process in taxes, and so since 2005 they have been trying to find me, sending letters to go to court. But every time they sent the letter to a different address where I used to live. In 2010, the judge told the special police to put me under arrest as soon as I came back to Brazil.
The guy who arrested me said, “I’m sorry but you gotta go to the state prison.” At that point, I knew that I was going to have my locks shaved. By the next day, I got to state prison and they told me right away, “We’re gonna shave your head.” I knew that one was coming and that I couldn’t get out of it, ya know. So I was really calm, and you know, my hair for sure, is a symbol of my faith, but my faith is deep inside my heart, so even shaving my heart could not take my faith.
The crazy part of it is, the day I got arrested in Rio was the same day that the police of Rio busted the biggest drug dealing hero of Rio. The police were going up for the first time to get all of the drug dealers out of the favelas and the whole city was crazy, like the police versus the drug dealers. It’s one of the biggest jails in Rio, so it’s pretty intense. You would hear different people come by the cell, and hear like, “The guys upstairs are planning a rebellion for tomorrow.” But I was trying to maintain my cool and my faith, and respect as many people inside as I could. I just tried to respect the others and they respected me back. Everything in that week was full of respect. There were 11 people in the cell, but everyone was respectful.
I didn’t know at the time how long it was going to be; they said it could take a day, a week, or month. I was just really calm and patient and hoped that it would be solved as soon as possible. And then within a week I got transferred to my hometown. My lawyer had a court date that I had to go to. The judge knew that it was nothing I did myself, and said I had two options: either pay what was owed or my dad would have to go to jail. I just tried to negotiate the whole amount, and that’s what we did. We did it in some payments and my lawyer consulted another lawyer who has expertise in tax problems, and right now they are trying to have the whole debt stopped because it has been so many years since it happened. My dad is an amazing person. He was my educator growing up. I know it wasn’t something he expected coming. The only thing I have for my dad is respect.
I grew my hair for 11 years. A lot of people have been asking, “How do you feel without all that weight on your head?” For me there is no difference. Skating seems the same. I had short hair back in the day. But it’s already started growing back.