Chapter 1: Tomato Salesmen Do Not Skydive!
April 4 1961
Over two years ago I gathered up a buttload of info on this incident. News clippings, pictures, bookmarked websites and hard copy books that had info on the story. Gathered it up with the intent to do an in depth story on the whole situation but life, as often life does, got in the way. Seems like every time I got set to start digging into the subject something would distract me and little would get done. SO, on this second anniversary of my failure to get the job done I figured I’d try a different route and do the story in bits, the major details at least and ideally on the days that it happened but at the very least within the week that it happened. I thought about leaving this as a full story for next years anniversary of the incident but then decided against it. Who knows what can happen in a year and I waited too long as it is. So have gathered up all the short posts and combined for the full story. Hope those reading enjoy!
So first off let’s clear up some of those silly myths on what happened on April 4 1961.
What DID NOT happen on that day:
- Carlos was not rousted out of bed in the middle of the night and whisked to the airport in his pajamas.
- Carlos was not hustled into a car as he walked down the street and whisked away to the airport.
- Carlos did not have a parachute strapped to his back and get booted out the back of a cargo plane to drop into the middle of the jungle. This very same thing did not happen twice as one popular Mob show claimed.
- Carlos was not dropped off in a jungle, either from above or landing at a jungle airstrip. At least not as the popular myth goes.
What DID happen on April 4 1961:
Marcello was required to check in with INS once a quarter. This had been going on for years and stemmed from government efforts to deport him ever since his immigration status became public during the Kefauver hearings in 1951. It had become a routine nuisance but there was never any thought of being deported while checking in as the government was required to give Marcello a 72 hour notice if the order ever did come down.
Now, going back to the Kefauver hearings, after a while of wrangling with the government on the issue the story goes that Carlos figured that if he ever did lose his appeals that it would be MUCH better to go to a South American country as opposed to Italy or Tunisia where he was born. So he had some of his guys (more to come on this later) go down to Guatemala, where Carlos had interests in the shrimping industry, tomato’s and weed, to find a place where Carlos could claim he was born. Which was accomplished.
So, on the morning of April 4 1961 Carlos showed up for his usual check in with his attorney Phillip Smith. Apparently Carlos sensed something was wrong almost immediately as he was escorted into an office as soon as he arrived. He was given a letter stating that he was a citizen of Guatemala and as such he was overdue on his visa and would be immediately deported back to his home country. Two ginormous immigration cops appeared and placed Carlos in cuffs. Carlos’s requests to call attorneys and his wife were refused as was requests to stop to get some money and essentials such as a change of clothes and a toothbrush. A three car convoy rushed Marcello to Moisant Airport where an INS plane was cordoned off and surrounded by police awaiting him.
Marcello would later say something to the effect
“You would have thought the President was coming in instead of me going out!”
Although the forced parachuting of Carlos over the deep dark jungles is more dramatic sounding Carlos was actually flown onto a Guatamalan Air Force Base where Colonel Antonio Batres, second in command of the Guatemalan Air Force, met him with all courtesies shown and they promptly disappeared from Immigration authorities radar.
Chapter 2: Miss Jinks Wardrobe
The Little Man’s first night in Guatemala
April 4-5 1961
Carlos’s attorney Phillip Smith rode in the caravan to Moisant Airport with Carlos and after the INS plane took off with it’s lone, unwilling passenger bound for Guatemala Smith first rushed to call Joseph Marcello, Carlos’s brother and the New Orleans Underboss. His next hysterical call went to the attorney that had been representing Carlos in his deportation struggles, Jack Wasserman.
Apparently Smith was in such a state that Wasserman couldn’t understand what Smith was trying to say and told him to call back once he had calmed down.
Smith was picked up by Joe and they returned to the office in the Town and Country Motel (Smith had an office there down the hall from Carlos) where they called Wasserman again and got across to him what had happened. Wasserman immediately got to work to file a suit against the government for the kidnapping of Carlos. He would file the suit on April 5.
While Wasserman was filing his suit Bobby Kennedy was announcing to the public that he had ordered Marcello’s deportation and that he was happy to no longer have Carlos with us.
While Smith was in hysterics, Joe in a rage and Wasserman working on his filing Carlos landed on a Guatemalan Air Force base around 6>40 PM local time. While Guatemala had agreed to accept Carlos based on the birth certificate showing he was born in the mountain village of San Jose Pinula the immigration officials there had their doubts and they were waiting for Carlos at the airport along with members of the press. They were surprised though when the INS plane landed on the military side of the base which was secured and which they could not enter.
After landing and being presented to Colonel Batres Carlos was asked where he would like to go to by the Colonel. According to John Davis in Mafia Kingfish Carlos response was to any hotel. The Hotel Biltmore was the nicest hotel in Guatemala City by all accounts but there were reporters there as well waiting for the tomato salesman from Louisiana to make an appearance. Colonel Batras left Carlos with some junior officers, presumably to make arraignments to get Carlos situated. Around 11Pm the Colonel re-appeared with his secretary, a Miss Jinks. “She will find you an apartment and put you up for the night because the reporters are still waiting at the hotel.” Batras told the Little Man. After the Colonel left Miss Jinks first question was to ask him if he wanted to get something to eat. They went to the Club Casablanca where Carlos got a turkey sandwich and a bourbon. By the time they were done it was about 2:30 AM and they still hadn’t situated Carlos for the night. Again, according to Mafia Kingfish, Miss Jinks solution was to take Carlos to her apartment for the night. when they entered and Carlos saw the king size bed Miss Jinks pointed to one side “I’ll sleep on this side, you can sleep on the other.” After Miss Jinks had changed clothes she gave Marcello a touch of privacy and told him there were some men’s clothing he could use in her wardrobe. Carlos opened the wardrobe and saw several men’s items of clothing. Carlos wondered if he was being set up for a hit. After all, who could blame a husband coming home to find his wife in bed with a strange tomato salesman from Louisiana.
According to the tale Miss Jinks slept soundly but according to Carlos he couldn’t sleep at all, ready to react to anything that might happen.
But of course, Mister Jinks never showed up.
Chapter 3: A New School for San Jose Pinula
April 5 1961
After a sleepless night at Miss Jinks place (in which he was not clipped, much to his relief I’m sure) Carlos and Miss Jinks were preparing for the day around 7AM. Carlos had Miss Jinks connect to his home phone through the local operator to inform his family where he was and that he was all right (no word if Carlos related to his wife the circumstances of his first night there and who he spent it with, lol) and after the initial hysterics from his wife and daughters he was informed that his brother Sammy would be coming down with cash, clothes and other supplies.
It’s unclear what happened or how in the following hours but at some point Carlos gets checked into the Biltmore Hotel in Guatemala City, reportedly the nicest in the city and parts ways with Miss Jinks.
Meanwhile in Washington D.C. Jack Wasserman, Marcello’s immigration lawyer (Wasserman had a few other Wiseguy clients as well) was filing suit against Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Immigration Commissioner Joseph May Swing for contempt of court (stemming from a court order which stated the government had to give Marcello a 72 hour notice prior to deportation) and that his clients deportation was illegal, void and demanded the return of Marcello to Louisiana.
While Jack was filing papers in Washington Carlos made a move in Guatemala that apparently didn’t help his situation much.
While Wasserman was arguing that his client was NOT a citizen of Guatemala Carlos unexpectedly showed up at the immigration office there presenting his papers proving he WAS a Guatemalan citizen. The immigration authorities had publicly stated that when they found Mr. Marcello and checked his papers that he would be thrown out of the country if there were any falsified information. Apparently the immigration authorities in Guatemala City were just as surprised as Wasserman was in Washington when Carlos showed up of his own will. Wasserman’s partner, attorney David Carliner, stated to the effect that if Marcello had any Guatemalan identity papers then they were given to him by INS before he was deported as Carlos was not in possession of any such documents and that they were fake. Apparently the immigration officials in Guatemala were satisfied with what they saw. Or were they??
Now, according to John Davis and Mafia Kingfish, when Carlos showed up to prove his Guatemalan heritage he was thrown into jail and was told that as San Jose Pinula’s most famous citizen he would want to build a new school for the village. Which would cost $75,000.00.
Whatever the case, Carlos was soon back at the Biltmore awaiting his family to arrive.
No word on how the village of San Jose Pinula enjoyed their new school.
Chapter 4: “I Don’t Blame Kennedy.”
April 5 – April 10 1961
By April 10 1961 Carlos was securely set up at the Hotel Biltmore in Guatemala City. A good portion of his family was at his side and things to be going fairly well for him in Guatemala, given the situation.
Brothers Sammy and Vincent, wife Jackie, Vincent’s wife Sadie, son Little Joe, daughter Florence and uncle Felice Golino had joined Carlos.
Meanwhile however, back in Louisiana the IRS slapped tax liens on Carlos for unpaid property taxes in Orleans, Caddo, St. Bernard and Jefferson Parishes. When asked for comment on the situation the District Director of the IRS Chester Usry said that Marcello had left the country without permission from the IRS while owing taxes. He further said that it was common practice in the given situation as collecting back taxes from deported illegal aliens was very unlikely.
The total came out a little over $835,000.00
Sometime prior to the news on the IRS action a reporter had tracked down Carlos and called him at his room. Carlos related the story of what happened at the INS office, the airport, the plane ride and when Guatemalan immigration officials checked his documents. At this point Carlos interrupted the interview to answer a knock at the door. It was brother Sammy just arriving in Guatemala City with the other family members. When Carlos returned he finished up the interview with comments on Immigration Commissioner Joe Swing.
“He did the same thing a few years ago.” (It’s not clear but I assume Carlos was referring to Joe Gagliano who was also deported in a swift action by Swing in 1955). “I don’t blame Kennedy, Swing is just trying to show him what he can do.”
As we know, Carlos didn’t stay with that train of thought for very long.
Chapter 5: Damn! Arrested Twice in One Month!
April 11 – April 22 1961
When we last left Carlos on April 10 1961 things were looking fairly good for him, given the situation. Until he got the news that he was hit up with tax liens back home totaling just over $835,000.00 by the IRS for daring to leave the country before filing his taxes. The IRS didn’t much care that The Little Man had no choice in the matter which some of the papers back in the US were commenting on with sympathy towards Marcello and questions for the INS, IRS, Department of Justice and Bobby Kennedy.
While Marcello’s lawyers were dealing with tax matters at home things were starting to take a turn for Carlos in Guatemala City. A newsman from Guatemala, Jose Palmieri, travelled to New Orleans on April 12 in search of information on how Carlos was able to be situated so quickly in Guatemala. When asked Palmieri commented that Guatemalan’s were in dismay over the red carpet treatment given to Carlos and that it appeared that someone high up in the Guatemalan government colluded with Carlos and paved the way for his arrival. With the pressure and questions starting to build up an investigation was ordered into the matter and the Judge of Investigation (apparently comparable to a Grand Jury here) of San Jose Pinula, Judge J. Paz, was directed to look into the birth records there and determine if there was forgery indicated in the city birth records and government officials started making public statements again that if his papers did prove to be false he would be arrested for illegally entering the country. Reportedly Carlos started feeling nervous over the situation again. At one point, apparently in a nervous manor, Carlos asked a reporter if the Guatemalan system allowed for bond to be posted if he was arrested. He seemed to be comforted somewhat by the reporters response that yes, that could be arraigned.
Back in the States on April 19 Federal District Judge Alexander Holtzoff ordered that Marcello’s case should be reviewed by a three judge panel though Holtzoff commented that he thought it was frivolous.
On Friday April 21 an order for Marcello’s arrest came down from Judge Rafael Laonza Parada when it was determined that the birth records for Calogero Minacore Farrugia (Louise Marcello’s maiden name was Farrugia, Carlos’s mother) in the town of San Jose Pinula were forged. The ink used apparently was not a match for the ink used in 1910, the ink also was not faded as the other entries for that time period and lastly the total amounts of births recorded for 1910 in the village were one less than the total counted up with Calogero’s name added to the list. Marcello was promptly arrested as he entered the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel where his family were waiting for him.
“I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know who these guys are. They haven’t shown me any identification. Please call my lawyer.”
Carlos said (presumably to his family) as he was led off to police headquarters. Wife Jackie, daughter Florence and Vincent’s wife Sadie burst into tears as he was taken away.
The same warrant called for the arrest of Gonzalo Palma, the Guatemalan official who issued the birth certificate for Carlos.
While Carlos was being arrested in Guatemala City the three judge panel was appointed to hear his case back in the US. Judge John Danaber and Judge Edward Curran were appointed to serve on the panel with Judge Alexander Holtzoff.
At the Headquarters of the Department of Special Investigations where Carlos was being held in Guatemala City an officer commented to reporters that Marcello was being held for possible deportation though he did not know where he might be sent.
On Saturday April 22 a hearing was set for Carlos on charges of using a false birth certificate.
Chapter 6: A Gun, A Hand Grenade and Carlos Marcello Buys the Farm………?
April 21 – April 28 1961
Carlos Marcello was arrested on Friday April 21 in Guatemala City. While sitting at the police station reporters asked him questions but the Little Man declined to make any comments on anything connected with his status as a Guatemalan citizen and only smiled when asked where he was born. He did ask to make one statement though “Since I came here the Guatemalan people have been kindly and friendly….officials, everybody.” He went on further to say he planned to stay in the country and buy a dairy farm and possibly build some hotels and that he had no plans to open a gambling hall or anything else illegal.
A hearing was originally scheduled for Saturday April 22 1961 on charges that he used falsified documents to enter the country but was rescheduled for the following Monday. On Tuesday Judge Rafel Alonso Parada ordered Marcello released due to insufficient evidence of the charge but stated that if new evidence came to light he could be re-arrested. Jose Luis de la Roca, Marcello’s Guatemalan lawyer, told reporters that Carlos was released without bond.
In a weird aside to the release of Marcello, the President of Guatemala, Miguel Ydigoras, ordered the firing and arrest of the Chief of Special Investigations Ranulfo Gonzalez Ovalle that Tuesday evening for releasing Marcello without consulting his superiors. (Not sure how the system works there but since a judge ordered his release it seems logical that he did so!). But Ovalle wasn’t having any of that. When Ovalle’s boss, Colonel Francisco Ardon Fernandez called him to his office to place him under arrest Ovalle pulled out a gun and hand grenade, threatened the Colonel and fled to his own office where he barricaded himself in with a couple of loyal men. A police team was sent in order to bring him out and arrest Ovalle but they were not immediately able to do so. No word on how long it took to get him out or what the following actions were with his arrest.
On the evening of Wednesday April 26 Miguel Ydigoras made a public statement that he was going to order the deportation of Carlos Marcello. When asked Marcello seemed astonished and said he knew nothing of the order.
On Friday April 28 prosecutors were renewing efforts to have Marcello re-arrested when they discovered him missing. It was thought that The Little Man was running to Honduras to escape deportation from the country. Later in the day it was learned that Carlos had been outside the city looking at that dairy farm he wanted to buy.
No word if he bought the farm or not.