A mobster and narcotics smuggler eludes authorities.

Smiling Salvatore Caruana in a suite and tie

Salvatore Caruana

Suspect:

Gender: Male
DOB: 1935 to 1939
Height: 6’
Weight: 175 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Graying black
Defining Characteristics: Scars on back, left cheek, right finger

CASE DETAILS

Salvatore Michael Caruana is a suspected narcotics smuggler who allegedly has ties to organized crime.   Since 1984, he has been the object of an intense manhunt by U.S. law enforcement officials. However, he hasn’t been seen for more than twenty years.

Smiling Salvatore Caruana in a suite and tie

Salvatore Caruana

Caruana’s criminal history dates back to 1954, when he was charged with armed robbery. By the late seventies, he had moved into narcotics as part of an organized crime syndicate in New England.

Joseph Keefe was a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency:

Mr. Caruana was involved in the distribution of approximately $40 million worth of marijuana. We have testimony from just one distributor, that in one particular operation he himself brought $4 million to Mr. Caruana. In these marijuana operations that Caruana was involved, he was the supervisor. Caruana would show up on the scene himself at the stash house before the marijuana was sent out and talk to his people, make sure it was weighed correctly, make sure the quality was good. He would then tell his distributor that I want X amount of dollars for each pound of marijuana that’s here. He’d carry guns… He would threaten to kill you. There’s no question. If you messed up, he’d threaten to kill you.”

Eventually, Caruana was caught. His smuggling operation collapsed with the arrest of several key associates. Their testimony led to an eleven-count Grand Jury indictment.

U.S. Marshals drawing their pistols while running towards a house

U.S. Marshals closed in

Caruana was charged with drug trafficking and faced the possibility of a life sentence. Bail was set at $500,000 which Caruana easily posted. He was released the same day.

Two days before his trial, Salvatore Michael Caruana disappeared. Special Agent Keefe has a theory why:

“Two of his close associates signed agreements with the government to cooperate and testify.   I think he felt that our case was much stronger with these two witnesses coming into the case to testify against him.   And I believe he just didn’t want to come in and face that because I think he felt that he would face some serious time in jail.”

Hidden vault filled with guns and financial papers and cases

Evidence was found during raid

A federal task force looked deeper into Caruana’s operation. They discovered that smuggling marijuana was only a small part of his criminal life. In fact, Caruana was laundering enormous amounts of money and was actually a multi-millionaire.

When federal agents raided Caruana’s home they found several hidden vaults filled with weapons and financial papers. What they didn’t find was Caruana.

Evidence soon led authorities to a condo he owned in Connecticut. By the time the federal agents arrived, Caruana had disappeared.

Arthur Roderick Jr. was an Inspector for the U.S. Marshal’s Service:

“He’s a very smart guy, he’s probably one of the most cunning and sly fugitives that we’ve come across in a very long time.”

Side and front profile mug shot of Caruana

Mugshots of Caruana

Three months later, an informant led authorities to the motel in Groton, Connecticut. Inspector Roderick was one of the first to arrive on the scene:

“When we first got into the room, it appeared like he had just got up to get a newspaper, that he could be coming back any minute. But once we started looking at specific items in the room such as the newspaper and spoiled food, it looked like he hadn’t been there for a couple of weeks.”

Inside the motel room, Inspector Roderick found a sawed-off shotgun and a briefcase:

“In the briefcase was a semi-automatic .22 and cash. From what we found at the motor inn, you could assume that he had been killed by organized crime people who thought that if he was caught he might talk. But we don’t have the body. And if it was an organized crime hit, I would think that they would want to leave the body behind so that we wouldn’t keep poking our noses into his business, which eventually would lead back to them.”

Caruana’s van had been abandoned at a Connecticut truck stop. When Marshals dusted for fingerprints, they found the van had been wiped clean.   According to Inspector Roderick, there are doubts Caruana is still alive:

“What we’re looking for is somebody to come forward and tell us that they have seen Salvatore Caruana alive after May of ’87. He could very well have been killed.   But we really don’t have anything to point to that. We don’t have anybody coming forward and saying yes I saw him abducted from the truck stop. It appears that he’s done a very smart thing. He hasn’t maintained contact with the people that he knew before we were chasing him.”

Salvatore Caruana has used the aliases John Michael Hurley, Vincent Spirito, and “Face.” He should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season two with Robert Stack and season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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13 Comments

  1. Geo

    I had one run in with mike. He had a peabody detective come to my house. He told me to square things up with mike or he would “burn my house down”. When I went to pay him he laughed and said,”don’t let anyone tell you that crime doesn’t pay” that was about a month before the raid on his house. I look back now and am glad I could pay him, have not met many men that scared me like him.

    Reply

  2. Mike Pizzo

    I have been told Sal Caruana may be my real father. Back story is my mother was dating a man in the early 70’s that was either a made man or an associate. I was born but she never listed who my father was, there was really bad blood between my family and him. My mother was killed in 1974 and her twin sister and husband adopted me. My adopted father was a Sicilian immigrant. All records indicating whom my real father was were erased when I was adopted. My family refused to tell me anything about my real father and I could only get small bits of information over the years. Many years ago an older generation family member once mentioned to me to look up Caruano. I don’t know the validity of anything and have no real way to find out, minus talking to anyone with direct knowledge. One time when i was around 12 I recieved an anonymous package in my name for me at home. In it was very very expensive items of all types. Watches, clothes, jewelry, books, etc. It was odd and nothing could be connected to it and whom it was sent by. This would have been in the early 80’s.

    Reply

  3. Sal

    Can’t Always Tell. Crazy Hunters
    Must Eat as well, he is an
    Intelligent.
    Yarmouth Often Understands
    Canton Always kNows.

    ~Sal

    Reply

  4. Italian scalion.

    Living in New Haven my whole life.
    Rumer has it the”wild guy” took out a dozen or more people.

    Reply

  5. Somebody Who Knows

    He was a great guy.
    He flew me home from my military school in upstate, NY to RI.
    He and my dad were good friends.
    I hope he’s enjoying himself on a tropical beach somewhere….On an island with no extradition treaty with the USA…

    Reply

  6. David Schuerman

    The real mystery is why they would allow him to post bail and not think he was a flight risk. How about doing your story on why the justice system was so stupid to let him get out on bail. Your story is all about him getting away. Why not ask the pointed question at to how that could happen in the first place?

    Reply

  7. Blacksonne88

    I know a guy really well, who knew his crew. Was also indicted on a marijuana bust 86k lbs. Up in northern MA southern NH. He said nobody wanted to do business with the guy cause he was all about himself n would threaten his guys to keep em line. Pos in my book.guy named Katz was involved with him n he ended up dead. I think he was taken out. Feds give the hitman too much credit saying that they woulda left the body to get them to stop sniffin. Hes at the bottom of the merrimac or the Mystic .

    Reply

  8. thinkingoutloud

    he’s clearly a smart man. he fled and went into hiding under a different name. it’s easy to disappear when you have a lot of many and a ton of people working for you.

    he’s probably dead now and will never be found

    Reply

  9. Fantom

    Grew up in Peabody knew foot soldiers for him. I knew guys who unloaded 18 wheelers full of weed. I also knew he paid his bail drove to Logan and left on his private jet. This is our FBI clain his missing claim he is dead. There a bunch of boobs. They don’t tell you about how it toook 2 weeks to wait out German attack dogs that they had to starved to get in the house. They were so vicious that no one could go near them. They were let in to a cage to eat and a fenced area around the house. I met him in Mel’s or Mal’s supermarket. Can’t remember the name I bumped in to him with a carriage by accident his body gaurds wanted to kick me. He talk to me I said I was sorry and he said your a good kid always be respect ful. As he left he handed me a candy bar and said kid never break the law go to school and be something. More respect for him than mobster FBI agents with a badge.

    Reply

    • Raymond Patrick caruana

      Reggio. As smart of a man as he is .most likely bailed out of jail hoped in a plane and vanished. I mean come on man, he was a pilot Payson heavy jail time what would you do?

      Reply

  10. Joe

    So this man was never caught?

    Reply

  11. cindy parke

    i knew him in 83/84 we dated a while. last i saw him was in early 84 i think….?? he said to me he was leaving country on his yacht and wanted me to go with him for possibly months i asked if i could bring my 2 dogs and when he said no i dumpted him right then. glad i did.

    Reply

  12. Chanita

    Good Grief And OMG Whew That Scares Me!

    Reply