Greeley Daily Tribune from Greeley, Colorado on April 13, 1972 · Page 10
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Greeley Daily Tribune from Greeley, Colorado · Page 10

Greeley, Colorado
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 13, 1972
Page 10
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10 GREELEY (Colo.) TRIBUNE Thurs., April 13, 1972, Daring Prison Break Deepens International Mystery By JOHN PUATERO ·if-- Associated Press Writer f;'MEXICO CITY (AP) - A almost GOO prisoners am guards watched a movie calkK "The Altar of Blood," a U.S. based helicopter swooped down within the Santa Maria Prison Walls, scooped up two men anc flew away with the answers to an international mystery. · · J o e l David Kaplan of Nev York City was one of the two men, who made the first known successful prison helicopter. .·'The confused escape bj and c tradiclory events that led lo the 28-year prison sentence Kaplan y/as serving, for the alleged murder of Louis Mclchor Vidal, hint at gun running, international dope smuggling, espionage activities, and the possibility t h a t (he body identified as Vidal was that of an itinerant Turkish peddler. Involved In Smuggling Kaplan, 45, had admitted he was involved in smuggling. The son of Abram Isaac K a p l a n , the molasses king, he traveled a great deal about the world, particularly in Latin America. .."Kaplan was well-educated, refined, loved politics and could be considered an expert on Latin American affairs," said Victor Velasquez, the Mexican lawyer who represented him in his appeals after he was convicted. Vidal, a New York City Puerto Kican, also had an international flavor to his life. His family, like Kaplan's, was connecied w i t h the sugar and molasses industries. · Deep investigation of conflict- Ing police records, lawyers' files and crart testimony points to a fascinating web of intrigue. Tile investigation turned up these possible explanations for the "Kaplan Caper:" Mercenary Group It could well have begun in the late l!)5Hs and early '60s wilh a group of organizations'dcr and when advised that he loosely referred to as Ihe Legion del Caribe. Among the le gion was a group of mercenaries involved in terrorist an: leftist movements in Centra America and the Caribbean islands. Also quite active in that part of the world at the lime was the U.S. Cenlral Intelligence Agency ( C f A ) . At one time, Ihc J. M. Kaplan Family Fund, a charitable [rust, served as an oullet (or CIA money. Jack Kaplan, Joel's uncle, told a congressional invesligaling committee a r ew years ago that Ihe Kaplan Pund had been used lo funnel CIA funds. Vidal apparently led a shady life bill he didn't have the stature nor the financial independence that. K a p l a n enjoyed. He sold Cuban pesos on the black narket and had been indicted n New York for fraud. "From bits and pieces put lo- jelher here, including things hal were said by Vidal's fa- her, a Spanish engineer associated with Vidal Sr., and some commenls made by Kaplan, wo mow t h a t Vidal had sold arms ind ammunition," said Velas iue;. "We feel he sold arms lo Jaslro and to members of the ^cgion del Caribe." Under Pressure In IDGt, Vidal, 32, was under ircssure thai already had cost iim a severe beating in New York City. Did it become wise o disappear? If so, the ideal place lo do it vas in Mexico where he had conlacls in important places. Persons involved wilh the case say (he plan was that Vidal and Kaplan would meet in Mexico City, where Ihey would ook for nn unclaimed body lhaf resembled Vidal, buy some blood plasma, fake a violent id and have their contacls cloud the legalities to proclaim Vidal dead, l i e , in turn, would vail near the G u a t e m a l a n bor- 353-4445 50th Avt. * 20th St. Highland Nurseries,^ JACOBSEN VALUE SPECIAL ROTARY Choose from 21 power-propelled, and 18" and 21" hand-propelled models. IACOBSEN REELS 18" cutting width, 2 HP- A-cycle engine. Thrifly in price . . . high In performance. JACOBSEN JAVELIN MARK II RIDER « or 7 HP engine! 30" scalp free mowing! OPEN SUNDAYS 1:30-5:00 was "dead," cross into Cenlral America and disappear. A Mexican witness would be set up lo identify the "body," a "wife" would make a quick appearance and contacts in (he U.S. Embassy would quickly accept a Mexican death cerlificate and authorize shipment of the corpse back to the stales. Kaplan would leave Mexico as soon as the deed was done, visit Vidal's father in New York City to assure him his son was not dead and then go about his own business. Met Kaplan Vidal arrived Nov. I I aboul noon and met with Kaplan, two sion at Kaplan's t r i a l : of Kaplan's friends and an em- ploye of Kaplan's Mexico City ;irrn. That night Vidal look his wlcl key, left his belongings jehind and departed with Kaplan. He was never seen alive again. By this same version, a few phone calls to hospitals and A borrowed car was already in hand, so Kaplan posed as Vidal and wenl to the hotel with the room key. He paid the i)ill, checked out and kept the Kolel key. Blood was poured on a pair of Vidal's pants, a jacket and a raincoat ami then lossed near a lonely road outside the City. Next, according fo a person connected with Ihc case, they went lo claim the body and planned lo place il somewhere near the clothing. Police would discover Ihe clothing which would have a couple items including the hole] room key lo show t h e y belonged lo Vidal. There would also ue in one of the pockets the name and address of tile "wife" in New York. Body Already Claimed They then wenl to claim the indy--bul it had already heeri claimed! They located Ihe unclaimed body ot an itinerant. Turkish peddler who had lived alone a few miles outside the city. The fad that he weighed pounds more than Vidal and was older would have lo be lasscd over through influence of Mexican friends. A f l e r they g"t the body, ili was shot five times and buried not fin; from where the clothing was thrown. Nov. 13, Kaplan left Mexico. for New York where he visited Vidal's father. Then he traveled lo South America, Canada, and Kiiropc. The following day, Kaplan's two friends, who had :een involved in Kuropean es- jionage aclivities in Ihe past, also departed. On Nov. 18, Ihc blood-stained clothing was found and in short lime a search began for Vidal. Four days later, (ho body was located. Since the corpse was minus a coal, pnnis and jacket and not easily recognizable, it was assumed lo be Vidal. Kin Rorprinls had been obliterated. 'Wife Showed Up' Vidal's "wife" showed up in Mexico Cily the following day at noon having oblaincd her visa, piano ticket and reservation al a t i m e when these were not quickly acquired. With only a marriage certificate, a visa which didn't require a At that lime in Nicaragua, then president Luis Somoza faced a strong guerrilla faction which was getting arms from outside the counlry. Vidal would have lo he stopped permanently. Kaplan, with con- tacls in Mcsico, would be Ihe mastermind and two agents would be brought from Europe as the executioners. If something went wrong and Kaplan hotel who also identified Vidal's "body." However, a year later she (old newsmen she had never seen Vidal alive. Only two hours after Vidal's death certificate was official and before it was made public, a man entered the Guatemalan consulate at Tapachula, Mexico, obtained a visa and crossed the border into that counlry on fool. His name according lo his U.S. passport: Louis Melchor Vidal. If the body found really was Vidal's and illegal arms sales were behind (he assassination, what brought about his death? This is Ihe proseculion ver- murdcr, his influence would allow him to blame his two "companions" who would long be gone by that lime. Planned When Vidal arrived, all was planned. Kaplan somehow explained (he presence of the two strangers and Vidal was executed. His body and clolhing were placed in two different places, parlly hidden, lo allow lime for Kaplan and the two agents lo get out of the country. By separating the clolhing and the body this gave police a double chance to discover Virtal's death. Such proof was needed to show the CIA thai Kaplan had done as he was told and hadn'l pulled a double- cross. Or was it narcotics? Kaplan said Vidal had been involved wilh drug smuggling and one of Vidal's suitcases found here had secret com- partmenls. Was Kaplan involved wilh such illicit drug traffic and had he been doublecrossed by Vidal, as some Mexican police au- found showed the victim also had been beaten aboul the stomach and bolh jaws were broken with a blunt instrument Had Vidal's killers tried to discover who else was in wilh him? Five Americans died of an overdose of drugs in Mexico Cily within Iwo weeks after Vidal's arrival. Was there a di- enemies inside the prison walls. wound up charged with Vidal's!thorities believe? The body His Biiarre Escapa bizarre escape was planned last year when he came into an inheritance back in the States estimated at about $3 million. On Aug. 18, a heli- rect connection with Vidal? Or Kaplan? Or does the Kaplan caper have something to do with Ihe Trujillo family which ruled the Dominican Republic? Former diclalor Rafael Leonides Trujillo reportedly was Vidal's godfather. The Dominican strongman ruled Ihe republic for 30 years until he was assassinated May 27, 1961. Vidal's family at this time was having serious financial problems and reportedly Trijillo owed Vidal $1 million. * - tW- - * -*.l IV-.* 5^»! · In any ease, in March 1962, Kaplan "was' jailed in Spain and a few days laler brought back; o Mexico City to be charged vilh Vidal's murder. Although Mexican authorities like to say now that Inlerpol was the in- itrument for Kaplan's arrest md extradition, one Mexican nvalved in the case at the time aid Kaplan was "kidnapped" rom the Spanish jail and iroughl to Mexico by two members of Mexico's secret police. Why? One theory is that Kaplan ·ould one day "put the finger" in his Mexican contacls if ille- al arms sales or a big smuggi- ng ring had been permitted to operate in Mexico. The b e s I vay to keep him quiet was lo ail him where he could be vatched. While in prison here during he following years, Kaplan never helped his case nor aided iis attorney. He gave Velasquez complete power to do as wished but refused to discuss his defense wilh his law- r er. "If you knew something that vouki cost you your We, would tell it?" he remarked lo Velasquez once. The years in prison passed 'or Kaplan. He married a Mexican girl during that time and has a 114-year-old daughter. radually he became ili with cidney, lung and heart -ailments and began drinking heavily. He received financial help from his !amily which won him favors and made him new friends and CITY OF CONTRASTS - Buried deep in the Amazon jungle, Manaus, Brazil, is a city of contrasts. The city still is not connected by road to the resl of Brazil, but free port privileges allow some Manaus residents lo lead lives that make other Brazilians jealous. City of Crazy Contrasts photo a photo of herself wilh llmie children supposedly hers ami Vidal's, she was accepted as Vidal's widow and identified Ihc body as his. New York cowl records showed her lo have been married to someone else and lhal she never had children. The Secret Police came up w i l h a chambermaid from the LOSE WEIGHT OR MONEY BACK Odtincx can help you become Ilio trim slim person ytnwanl to be. Odrincx is a liny table! and easily swallowed. Con' toins no dangerous drugs. No starving. No special exercise. Gel lid ol excess fat and live longc'. Odilncx lias brerr used successfully by thousands allover the country [w 14 years. Odiirux I'tan costs 53.25 and lliel.iree economy size $5.25. Yen must lose ugly til or your money will be refunded. Ho questions asked. Sold wilh Ibis guarantee by: SKAGGS DRUG , CENTERS , MANAUS, Brazil (AP) --.most prohibitive duties on the Maiiaus, c a p i f a l of Brazil's jungle slate of Amazonas, is a city of almost crazy contrasts. To begin with, it's a free port, bul it's nearly 1,000 miles from the ocean. Even though they live on Ihe banks of one of the world's biggest rivers, Ihe mighty Rio Negro, near where it joins with [he even bigger Amazon River, citizens of Manaus must buy d r i n k i n g water in plastic containers if Ihey don't want to risk c o n t r a c t i n g dysentery. A "Mnmiai'H," or M a n a u s resident, may never have seen the sea, but he can eat a dozen kinds of tasty river fish as big as (hose caught in the ocean. Yet wild game, which abounds in Ihc surrounding jungle, is hard to come by in the city. Even t h e poorest inhabitants of Manaus have a( least one J a p a n e s e transistor radio, which can be bought here duty- free for as l i t t l e as S-f.50. But oranges arc luxury. They have fo be down in from San Paulo, 1,700 miles southeast, and cost $2 a dozen. Rich, creamy butler can be found in any food slore, yet milk is scarce. The butter is imported from Holland, but local milk production is low. The free port was established in Iflfi? to bring new money into what had been one of Brazil's most economically depressed slate capitals. Officials say the project has had tremendous success, creating new jobs and a t t r a c t i n g oulside investment. The free port also has allowed many people in Manaus lo live in a style t h a t makes Brazilians in other areas jealous. A middle-class "Manuara" usually has sophisticated stereophonic equipment in his home, plus air conditioning and several electric fans. He often owns high-precision cameras. He has one, sometimes two, cnrs in Ihe garage His wife dresses in Japanese silk and wears Ihe latest I t a l i a n bikinis al nearby riverside ic;ichrs. Bul our "Manuara" can continue lo live like Ibis only as long as ho slays in Manaus. If he leaves, he will have to pay nl- goods. Non-residents can take out $120 worth of goods duty- free each time they leave Manaus. Although the biggesl ocean liner could easily whip aboul under full steam on the Hio Negro without fear of running aground, unloading a ship is a complicated o p e r a t i o n i n Manaus. During Ihc rainy season the river sometimes rises the center of town is an ornate opera house where 1 stars from Europe once performed. Today it is in disrepair. Guide fo Books BOB DYLAN. By Scaduta. Grosser Anthony Dunlap Anthony Scaduto, who used to be a newspaper feature writer, more lhan 20 feel. "TM Really taken a careful, even scholarly approach to this book. The Manaus harbor has two subtitled "an intimate biogra : Brilish-buill floating piers,! phy." linked lo the mainland by 500-i I Ms approach is to fell a kit foot-long hinged roadways. Car- about songwriter Bob Dylan go is transfered from the ships ii» a noj-cnn untv, i nf .TM.. «.,~i lo Ihe piers and from there fo shore by hooks that run on thick cables. Surrounded by practically impenetrable jungle, Manaus can be reached only by boat or plane. The trip from Sao Paulo by land and river takes nearly two weeks. The same journey ciin he made by jet in five hours. The government is building roads, however, that, will link Manaus lo the rest' of the country. If you f r i e d to make it overland through the jungle to Manaus, you probably would run into some primitive Indians. But it is extremely rare lo see a pure-blooded Indian on the slreels of the city. Around the turn of the century Manaus was the center of Brazil's fabulous but short-lived rubber boom. Still standing in Seedling Trees OTTAWA-Canadian forcslry researchers have learned lo grow 2.5 million seedling trees per acre at a SO |cr cent saving in lime, space and money. And no soil is needed. The secret is 20-by-H-inch blocks of polystyrene about 5'.4 inches deep and containing 192 Inpcred v e r t i c a l holes an inch in d i a m e t e r nt Ihe lop. The holes are filled with |eat moss and vermiciilifp, in which a conifer seed is grown to the planting singe. The Jack Jill Shop A Mntht'r-lo-flp.'f ,S?; Us! Maternity I'miliions . . . Dressy anil raxunl, liiitlt'ranrmnntx. ]'l«s Krerytliinif for llnliy! "C.lnir^,:" JT'ltnt You liny. copter piloted by an American dropped into the prison yard and 'whisked away Kaplan and anolher prisoner, a Venezuelan named Carlos Contreras Cas- ·o. All had been arranged. Guards who observed the escape, said later their guns wouldn't work, the telephones didn't operate and something had gone wrong w i t h the alarms. Certainly such an escape could not be arranged by only one person. Kaplan's sister had offered $1 million for her brother's freedom and was friendly tvilh anti-Caslro Cubans in Florida. Did a free-Cuba organization set up the escape for (he money? Who knows? But Kaplan has not been traced since Aug. 18, the day he left Santa Maria prison. Although an agreement exists, extradition from the U.S. to Mexico is highly unlikely, nor is there an open charge against him in the U.S. If Kaplan is alive and well in [he U.S., there is no need for him to remain hidden. Or was Kaplan whisked away from prison only to be killed elsewhere? Again, who knows? 15 MINUTE SERVICE COLLINS MUFFLER SHOPS FREE INSTALLATION «01 W. 10th . 353-2537 Ihe person, wilh lesser evaluation of his place in the his tory of pop culture. This seem; wise, since Dylan is 30, sfil alive and capable of further changes. Pop culture also wil different vantage points and in other years. For a reader interested in Dylan, the person behind the songs and the mystique, this i; a fascinating book. Jt seems well-balanced and thorough neither a deification nor a put down, so thai one places re liance on it. Scaduto has inter viewed many, many people-and probably tried to interview more; .some people won't talk about Dylan. He also talkerl to Ihe subject himself afler Dylan had read the rough draft of Ihe book. Dylan made some com ments, which were added to the hook. On the questions of whether Dylan used people or not whether he was opportunistic or sincere in his song writing and changing self-presentation why he went from protest to good-time country tunes, Scaduto lets lols of people give t h e i r parlicular slants on the factors involved. The author does give his own opinion sometimes, for instance saying that Dylan seemed always to change when the general aura of (he Unas changed and Ihe direction of "the movement" changed. Scaduto believes this is not Dylan selling out, capitalizing on the changes after (hey'd happened or leading the changes, though his music would then almost always have an effect. For Scaduto, Dylan is so much a part of the limes that (wilh one or two exceptions) everything just simply changed at the same time. The author also gives the best interpretation of (he record album "John Wesley Harding" (hat we've read and if he's right it's certainly more a presentation of complex Bob Dylan thoughts and conclusions about himself than we'd realized. The book ends before Dylan cut the protest single record "George Jackson." We think this is a good book, ami we're relieved. Bob Dylan is loo important lo be presented in a bad one. Mary Campbell Associated Press Come in Save during the INVENTORY SALE *SAVE $ 160.00* on this Kenwood System $89.00 or $178.00 PAIR REG. $299.95 95-Watt. mt. 2-FC. FM/AM Slerea Receiver - Ki'is on scur.f ,-,iri 93 walls of fa'g sie'60 power, low difiorion! Kno,vn for fuaury leases stch a* ternvnVs f C r tv,o eels ofsiere spears, two phonos, [ape dec**, and au» liaryi Easi'y r«sng-ized fcv efcga-.l sty'ir.g! Armed w,lh KENWOOD deoervdab My a-.d lop level pftfform- anccl Rich ie*drrj in Eterco en]oyrr.enl! 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