Chapter 1: April Showers Bring El Salvadoran Flowers
April 28 1961 – May 4 1961
When we last left Carlos in Part One on April 28 he had been looking over a dairy farm outside Guatemala City and the Guatemalan authorities were doing their best to come up with a reason to re-arrest the Little Man and the President of the country, Miguel Ydigoras had made a public statement to deport Marcello from the country for using false identification papers.
However Ydigoras and the country of Guatemala ran into the same problem Bobby Kennedy and the USA did……..nobody would agree to take a 51 year old tomato salesman!
Before he was put on a plane to Guatemala the INS had attempted to get permission to deport him to Italy, Tunisia and France. Italy would not take him because he was not born in Italy (Officially the reason though it’s suspected some Italian officials received fat envelopes). Tunisia would not take him because when he was born in the country it was under French rule. France would not take him as they no longer controlled Tunisia and that’s where he was born. Allegedly Kennedy had worked out a deal with Taiwan (??, then the country of Formosa) to take him but that plan was nixed in favor of being able to quickly get him on a plane to Guatemala. So, the dilemma of what to do with the undesirable Mobster in their country!!
On May 1 the Chief of the Immigration Department in Guatemala city told reporters that he had not yet received any orders to deport Marcello but also commented that it would be almost impossible to do so as he lacked papers and that “no one wants to accept him under these conditions.”
Meanwhile on May 1 Carlos and Jackie are hit up with tax liens totaling $130,895.00 for unpaid taxes from 1956 to 1959. This was in addition to the $835,396.00 for 1960 and 1961 that they were hit up with just a few days after being deported in April.
On May 2 Carlos was told he would be deported and must leave the country as soon as he was able to make arraignments to do so and that his family must leave the country by 2PM local time the next day. The order made no mention of what country Marcello should go to but a court official told him that Guatemala was deporting him because his presence in the country had caused problems.
On May 3 Carlos saw his family off at the airport in Guatemala City and then tried for 3 hours to charter a private flight out of the country (unclear as to where he was trying to go to) with Taca airlines. The company would not sell him a ticket and indicated that they were acting on orders of US authorities to not do so.
Police Colonel Oscar Girone Perrone told reporters that Marcello had no alternative but to return to his rooms at the Biltmore Hotel and await further developments. Perone had escorted Marcello back to the hotel and warned him not to try to leave. Police guards were posted at the entrance of the hotel as well.
In a move that was apparently a reprisal against the the airlines in Guatemala President Ydigoras ordered all commercial flights in and out of Guatemala to be suspended. Apparently Pan Am and other airlines all refused to let Marcello board an aircraft if he presented himself. The suspension lasted six hours.
Late that night Marcello and Mike Maroun who had stayed with Carlos were told to pack their bags and that they were to be deported.
The day went like this in Marcello’s words:
“They told me they were going to give me a permit to go to the United States so we were all happy. We go to the airport, my wife gets the ticket and we all, Vincent, gets a ticket. I believe I had one of my daughters there. They got a ticket. When I went there they say they got orders from the State Department, you can’t get a ticket, you can’t get a visa and go back. State Department of the United States.So my wife, she start to cry and then I say “Well look, why don’t you all go ahead and leave me and Mike.”So we went back to the hotel and it’s about eight that night. We had two Secret Service men staying with us. I find it funny they was staying there. About an hour later three more came in there and they say ” all right, pack your bags. Let’s go.” So they put us in a station wagon and we go to San Salvador, me and Mike.”
Apparently Marcello was wrong about San Salvador.
They were taken to El Salvador but not the capitol city. Witnesses at the Biltmore in Guatemala City reported that apparently Marcello gave no resistance to the officers escorting him and that he paid his bill before leaving. They were then hustled into a station wagon for the three hour drive to the El Salvadorian border.
They were dropped off at an army camp about twenty miles into the country.
Chapter 2: This Is The Part Of The Story Where Carlos Gets Dropped In The Jungle!
In the first part of our story where Carlos was first deported to Guatemala we’re lucky enough to have a lot of news reports on the subject. When Carlos was sent over the border to El Salvador however Carlos was lost to the public eye and therefor there’s not much in the way of historical news accounts of this time period. The best source, unfortunately, is John Davis’s Mafia Kingfish. Anyone that has read my stuff before will know I don’t like depending on that book for facts as Davis got a lot wrong on Carlos’s early life. But that’s the only source I’ve come across, so that being said let’s pick up with Carlos in El Salvador.
The last we saw of Carlos and his friend/business partner/lawyer Mike Mauron they were in a station wagon with a couple of Guatemalan Secret Service agents heading towards the border with El Salvador. Details aren’t clear but it seems Guatemala dropped the two like cheap dates at an army base in El Salvador and then skedaddled back to Guatemala City. The next day it was first reported in Guatemala City that Marcello had disappeared from his hotel and it was thought he was trying to flee the country and an all out search was ordered for him. Later on that day it was revealed by some Guatemalan policemen that Carlos had been driven to the El Salvadoran border the night before but couldn’t confirm if he’d been allowed into the country or not. Later on that day Guatemala’s Interior Minister, Rodolfo Martinez Sobral confirmed that he had been deported to El Salvador.
El Salvador was having none of it though and claimed that the only person that Guatemala had deported the night before to their country was a gentleman by the name of Arcadio Zepeda. El Salvador’s Director of Immigration told reporters that Zepeda was promptly returned to Guatemala though and if Zepeda was actually Marcello then he was back where he came from. He also went on to say that if Marcello did present himself at the border he would not be allowed into the country.
Carlos and Mike were driven to some type of military encampment near the city of Canelaria de la Frontera about 15 miles into the country of El Salvador where they were held for several days and then taken to another military base in the capitol of San Salvador. There Carlos and Mike were held and interrogated for six days. Around 11PM on that sixth day a military officer informed the two men to get ready as they were being deported in a few moments to Hondouras. Carlos’s pleading requests to wait until daylight were ignored though he was relieved that as they readied to go their cash, $3000.00 that was taken from them when they arrived, was returned to them. Two guards were assigned to escort the two Louisianans to an airport near the border with Hondouras. The two guards herded their wards onto a rundown old bus (it’s unclear if the guards boarded the bus with them or not) that set off down the road and soon began climbing a lonely dirt road that wound it’s way up into the mountain range that made up the border between the two countries. After a six hour ride and reaching the top of the mountain range a few miles inside Hondouras the bus stopped and threw Maroun and Marcello onto the dusty road in the middle of the South American jungle. The Mafioso from New Orleans and his attorney from Shreveport could only watch as their rundown ride left them behind without any sign of civilization around them. All the two could do was walk in the direction they were previously going in and hope for the best. Over the next eight hours and 17 miles the two older men (Carlos 51 and Maroun 45) trudged their way along the mountain road with little to sustain them. According to Maroun’s version of the tale Carlos found it hard to breathe in the upper mountain atmosphere and collapsed in the road three times saying he couldn’t go on any further. Supposedly Carlos commented one of the times “If I don’t make it Mike tell my brothers when you get back what that kid Bobby done to us. Tell ’em to do what they have to do.” You’ll remember, at one point in the beginning of this ordeal Carlos told reporters he didn’t blame Kennedy for his current trouble. It seems by this point he had changed his mind on that.
As the two men were about to reach the end of their endurance they staggered into a mountain village.
Chapter 3: I survived the Honduran Jungle and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt and Two Broken Ribs.
May – June 5 1961
On June 5 1961 a car pulled up in front of 577 Woodvine Dr. in Metairie Louisiana and gave a short honk on the horn. The driver was an attorney and the passenger was an Immigration official. The house was definitely an upscale home and you knew someone successful lived there. At the same time it was a modest home for the area and for it’s location, right across the street from the Metairie Country Club. A moment or two after the attorney sounded the horn a short, squat figure strolled out the front door and got into the waiting car. The new comer was The Boss. No record of the conversation, if any, exists from the drive to downtown New Orleans but it always makes me think of the scene in Goodfella’s where Henry is seen off at Robert’s Lounge by Karen, Tommy, Jimmy and the rest of the gang, goes outside and gets into the waiting car and says “Now take me to jail.” And for sure, that’s most likely where The Boss was going that day.
A couple of weeks earlier:
When Carlos and Mike reached the mountain village in Honduras after their 17 mile hike they were able to find some shelter and food and rest their weary bodies for a time. When they were ready to press on they hired a couple of local boys to guide them to the nearest airport which was a two day trek down the mountains towards the Honduran plains. As they got closer to civilization the two middle aged and overweight guys from Louisiana were getting the feeling that they might not make it to their destination as their guides kept whispering between themselves while looking back at their exhausted employers. They may not have known that Carlos and Mike had cash stuffed into their shoes but they probably suspected they had some on them somewhere. At a point where the road became overgrown with jungle the guides had to start clearing a path with their machetes and this is when the Bayou Boys decided to make a break before those long blades were put to use on them. They at first slowly fell behind the two guides as they cleared a path and when they deemed they were far away enough they ran into a pathless slope in the jungle where they ran/stumbled/fell and rolled before ending up in a gulley bruised and bleeding with Carlos complaining of a severe pain in his left side. He would later learn he had broken two ribs. After eluding their would be murderers the pair spent more hours trekking through the Honduran jungle until they came upon a small regional airport where they were able to hire a plane to fly them to the capitol city of Tegucigalpa. When they arrived they rented a hotel room where proceeded to sleep for two days straight. After a couple of days it was decided Mike would fly back to New Orleans to let Carlos’s family know that he was bruised and battered but alive. Carlos was in the hotel in the capitol for two weeks.
How he actually got back into the country still remains a mystery and there’s many versions of how he did it. Carlos’s version, which lacks most of the details, was that he decided it was time to go home so he somehow obtained a forged visa (Carlos claimed in one interview he got it from a Honduran taxi driver) and a ticket to Miami.
“I come right into Miami. Immigration and Customs searched my baggage and I just showed them the papers. I went right on through and I got in a cab and I took off. I got a ticket and I come back to New Orleans. I catch a cab in New Orleans and I go straight to my house.” the Little Man claimed.
Some of the other theories on how Carlos made it back into the country and New Orleans.
- ~He was flown back to New Orleans from Honduras in a private plane. Pilots ranged from unknown to David Ferrie to Barry Seal.
- ~Where and when he landed is also up for speculation and debate. Have heard the Miami version at the airport as well as private airports and landing strips. Carlos has variously stepped out of the plane and strode away, hurriedly gotten out and ran and, in one version, jumped from the taxiing aircraft to run into the foliage surrounding the area.
- ~He was brought back aboard a boat. Most likely a shrimping boat from the fleet of Felice Gollino.
- ~ G Robert Blakey, one of the architects of the RICO act and who served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations stated in 1980 that it was picked up on a wiretap that Marcello was flown to Miami aboard a Dominican Republic Air Force jet on the orders of the country’s President, General Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo had a mutual friends with Carlos in Santo Trafficante and Washington Lobbyist Irv Davidson. FBI files suggested that then Senator Russel Long may have intervened on Marcello’s behalf with Trujillo as well.
Some of these are possible and some just ridiculous.
No matter the way he returned by June 2 word had made the rounds that The Little Man was back and he was thought to be in the Shreveport area. And the word had made it all the way to Washington where an enraged Robert Kennedy sent his federal forces to find his foe that he thought he’d seen the last of just two short months earlier. Mike Maroun told local reporters (Maroun lived in the Shreveport area) that his phones were tapped and he was being followed by the Feds in the hopes of capturing and re-deporting the Little Man. The Feds would look in the Shreveport area uselessly for several more days.
In Chapter 3 we’ll cover the fallout of the Little Man’s deportation.
Latest posts by Ronald Rawson (see all)