Before Carter had left the sunken cruiser Nachi he had attached a buoy to the ship with a cable. When he returned the next day he found the buoy had been removed. He had to find the ship a second time. The second buoy was cut again. Marcos claimed that Japanese salvage companies were in the area and must be responsible. He later learned that Marcos had ordered the buoys cut to keep the Leber group from making an immediate recovery. Marcos suggested that Carter find another land site that he guaranteed him he could start after he returned from the States. Marcos wanted the refractory furnaces in Carter's plants to be shipped to the Philippines immediately. Before Carter left the Philippines President Marcos had the eleven Leber group members sign an agreement dividing all future recoveries with no Philippine taxes. This meant that each member was to receive a 1/11th share. Carter was elated when he returned to make those and other necessary arrangements.
Carter had a lot to do while he was home. He had to dismantle his refractory plant and crate it to be sent by steamship to the Philippines. This effectively put him out of business in Nevada since he needed those furnaces to make a saleable product. He had over a hundred employees and the payroll would continue. He needed money and expenses for his return trip. He also needed financing for the new plant that Marcos insisted he construct there. He was required to hold a board meeting to get their approval for all of this. He also was faced with some morality problems with this project. He no longer had any doubts about the reality of this treasure . He also knew that it was covered with the blood of so many innocent victims.
During his many meetings with General Ver and Marcos he was questioned repeatedly for his opinion on how to turn this gold into cash without upsetting the world gold market. The very fact that this gold existed was enough to drop the price of gold in the market with substantial side-effects. With China's population numbering a billion people who were economically depressed he was positive that the possibility of China invading the Philippines to take this treasure was a reality. Look what they did in Korea for far less a motive. In his mind it could cause World War III. Marcos had told Carter that the gold he had already recovered was more than he could ever spend even if he lavishly showered it on the Filipino population. He didn't want to recover any more of these sites until this distribution problem was solved. Carter was given that problem to solve.
Carter knew that Marcos was serious about this problem and he agreed with his assessment of the danger. Carter had to have a viable solution before he returned to the Philippines and he had less than a month to solve it. He sought the advice of a powerful, somewhat right-wing, organization. This included some extremely wealthy members and American politicians. They provided the capital he needed to dismantle his plant and to keep the company alive while he was overseas. They also guaranteed to advance the money required to build the refinery in the Philippines that Marcos had insisted upon. In a meeting with a U.S.Senator and other top members of this organization Carter explained the world-wide disposition problem. They had a solution. The organization controlled a number of banks in the US and Canada with affiliates in Europe. They guaranteed Carter that they could legally handle 1000 metric tons of gold a month and none of it would go into the world market. For all of these services Carter had to sign a contract that gave the organization 25% of any profits he would receive under the Marcos agreement. Carter had no choice for without this plan he knew Marcos would be hesitant to allow any further recoveries.
Carter's return to the Philippines was full of great expectations. He had located the Nachi and could now recover the treasure from the ship and the barge. He had engineered the recovery of the treasure in the hidden air vent in Fort Santiago. Both of these were short term projects. He would have unlimited wealth within the month. He was embarking on a great adventure. This anticipated wealth was not important to him personally, but it would give him the means to accomplish all of the things that he had planned. He was met at the airport by all the members of the Leber Group. Like his first trip he chose the hotel over the palace. President Marcos and General Ver were in China and Carter had to wait their return for the first meeting where he had expected to tell the President about the fool-proof program he had negotiated. He used this time to prepare security plans and make arrangements for the necessary men and equipment to be able to do the projects.
It was two weeks before he met with General Ver at the Palace. President Marcos was tied up with accepting a new Ambassador from Romania. Ver said that he had met with the President earlier and had prepared a number of questions for Carter. There was also some major changes.Carter's furnaces and other plant equipment were scheduled to arrive aboard the ship in ten days. Ver said Marcos didn't want to wait for the new plant to be built in order to start using them. There were some empty buildings next to the Malacanang Palace. He wanted Carter to set the furnaces up there. it was a safe place because the Presidential Security barracks were right next door. Carter agreed and said he would bring over his partner and chief engineer to help set it up. Marcos also wanted Carter to submit the plans to construct the new refinery and to coordinate that with Jose Campos, the Chairman of United Drug Companywhich was the largest pharmaceutical firm in Asia. United would providethe land in the Free Trade Zone at Bataan.
The General was elated with the sale plan that Carter outlined for him. He said it was perfect and that Marcos would be pleased. He emphasized the need to start re-melting the bars immediately. Ver told Carter that there was a basement vault under the Palace which was full of gold bars. More than he had shown Carter on his first trip. The General could see that Carter found this hard to believe so he offered to take him downstairs when the meeting was over. Ver continued by asking Carter what he planned to do with the errant Ambassador. He repeated that the President wanted him liminated. Carter remembered the first meeting with Marcos where it was clear that Marcos wanted the ambassador killed. Carter had told the President that there must be another way. Ver gave Carter a way to save the Ambassador, but if he failed, the matter was no longer in his hands. Carter agreed to try, but if he did fail, he made up his mind that he would have to give up this dream and leave the Philippines. He was not going to be a part of murder, even indirectly. The whole incident made him nervous.
This meeting with Ver was very long. The General had saved the bad news for last. He announced that the Leber group was not going to be able to work on the cruiser Nachi until later. The excuse offered by Ver was that the Japanese Ambassador had recently visited the Philippines and asked Marcos for permission to remove their war dead from the many sunken ships so that they could be properly buried in Japan. Marcos knew that wasn't the real reason; they were after the gold. If Carter was seen out in the bay removing things from the Nachi, then Marcos would be in trouble with the Japanese. Ver asked Carter to understand and promised him that the President would let him recover that at a later date..
That bad news wasn't all. Ver told Carter that the Leber group could not do the Fort Santiago site either until the President had time to meet with the head of the National Historical Society. The ancient Spanish fort was a major tourist attraction and they objected to its' temporary closing for this "restoration" project. This was devastating to Carter. He had planned on both of these sites being recovered within thirty days of his arrival. He let Ver know of his displeasure and said that if he had known that he never would have dismantled his refractory plant. He couldn't tell Ver that he only had a limited amount of money and that these delays would create major problems for him in the States.
He did tell Ver that this was going to require him to go home. The General said that the President didn't want that. Ver said he should set up the furnaces when they arrived and start processing Marcos's gold. Carter was to receive $5 for every ounce he re-melted. The President also told the General to request Carter to find another site which he could start excavating immediately. There was one condition. This new site had to be out in the jungle somewhere, away from any towns or buildings. This eliminated all of the easy to recover sites in and around Manila. The meeting over, Carter returned to his hotel to tell the Leber group members, who were waiting to learn what was happening, but first Ver took him to the large room in the basement. What Carter saw was mind boggling.
The Leber group members were understandably disappointed, but quickly showed enthusiasm over the green light which was to start another site right away. Carter pretended the same enthusiasm, but later he and his partner discussed the realities of their problem. They would have to lay off most of their employees stateside and cut back on all expenses. Even that could only buy them a few weeks.
Well that could turn around if they could get the furnaces set up and working. In the meantime they had to locate the new site. The next ten days they travelled all over Northern Luzon, rejecting most of the sites they looked at for one reason or the other. There was one site in the four hundred year old San Augustin Church. It was easy to do and the Catholic Fathers were anxious for it to be done. President Marcos rejected it. Too many people would know about it and he didn't trust the Fathers.
The site that Carter selected was 38 miles south of Manila. It was three miles from the nearest small town of Teresa. During the war the area had been a major Japanese encampment and a POW camp. It was a tent city and no buildings remained. The Japanese had constructed a huge underground tunnel system. The openings to the tunnels were well hidden and the jungle had reclaimed the area. Some of the markers had been destroyed by stone cutters, but enough remained to pinpoint the site. It had several drawbacks. It was a long way from Manila and was a logistical nightmare which caused many delays. By using an exposed airvent Carter was able to locate the center of the tunnel. According to the map the top of the tunnel was 90 feet from the surface. Digging started as soon as Carter could mobilize the equipment and the manpower. Marcos provided the laborers who had all been screened by the Presidential Security force. They were experienced and worked for a construction firm owned by a golf partner of Marcos. The President insisted that once exposed to the site the workers could not leave until the project was completed. Temporary shelters and cooking facilities had to be erected.
Marcos had assigned only one sergeant from the Presidential Security to guard the site. He was heavily armed but General Ver required that he not wear his uniform. The idea was to not draw attention to their activities. The cover story was that the Americans were conducting soil tests for a proposed sub-division. There were farmers passing near the site who could see the digging. The lone guard kept them from getting too inquisitive. The Americans with their white skins had to keep hidden behind a bamboo fence.
The digging was agonizingly slow. What impressed the Americans was the accuracy of the maps. At different depths they were to reach a layer of glass, charcoal, and crossed bamboo. At the lower depths they were to find finger bones and human skulls. They did, and it was very disquieting. It even shocked the workers who were very superstitious. it took two months to reach the top of the concrete and steel tunnel. This was 85 feet down from the surface. The Americans were very excited. Using jackhammers they cut through three feet of concrete. Once they broke through they expected to be able to drop into the tunnel and walk to the treasure which was loaded onto 23 large military trucks sealed in the tunnel with the gold. Disaster struck the minute they broke through the concrete ceiling. The workmen began dropping like flies and the odor coming from the tunnel closed for over forty years pole-axed the Americans on the surface. In the tunnel the workers couldn't smell it, but once it mixed with air the stench of decayed flesh was overwhelming. There were 1200 POW's and Filipino's buried alive by the Japanese with this treasure. The entombed bodies as they decayed created methane gas. Half the crew were hospitalized. It took a week for the gases to dissipate and even then the workers in the shaft needed to wear gas masks.
The tunnels were not open. The Japanese had back filled them by bulldozing dirt and bodies into them. The bones removed created a large mound. It was grisly work. On July 4, 1975 the foreman came running up to Carter and very excitingly told him the workers had hit metal. Carter ordered all the workers out of the tunnel and had himself lowered into the shaft. Using a flashlight he saw the nose of a 1000 pound aerial bomb standing on end. The workers using a jackhammer had just missed the detonator by two inches. He also saw a large curved piece of rusty metal which he further exposed with a shovel to reveal the fender of a truck. Eureka!!! He had found it.
The 1000 pound bombs were clearly shown on the map. There were eight of them scattered throughout the tunnels and rigged to the trucks. They were packed in cosmolene grease and were very much "live". Carter had known they were there and had arranged with General Ver to have a demolition team come in to defuse them. There was no telephone anywhere near the site and he had been instructed to notify the Area Commander the minute they had reached the target. The Americans were very excited, but did as they were ordered. They drove to the nearest military base. It was early in the morning and the Colonel had not yet gotten out of bed. Once awake he radioed the General and was ordered to bring the Americans to his house. In the meantime he said he had deployed a full company to secure the site and make sure that no workers were allowed to leave.
General Cannu was the Area Commander and his house was 45 miles away from the base. When Carter and his partner arrived they were greeted with the same excitement that they had brought with them. The General immediately got on the phone and called General Ver. Carter told Ver what he had found and requested the demolition team be sent immediately. Ver was equally excited and told the Americans to go back to their hotel and he would send a car for them. He assured Carter that the demolition team was on the way and that the site was secure. It was still before noon and they did as requested and returned to their hotel to wait. It was a long day. With adrenaline pumping they paced their rooms until late in the afternoon when Colonel Luchica, the Generals aide, called and said to be downstairs in an hour and a car would be waiting for them to be bring them to the palace. Carter was a little surprised that the Colonel was somewhat sedate on the phone, but decided he may not have been told by Ver that they had reached the target.
General Ver's big dark blue Mercedes was waiting for them. The driver and Lieutenant Saprosantos were in civilian clothes. Carter and his partner settled in the back seat eagerly awaiting their reception at the Palace. The driver was taking a different route and Carter mentioned that this wasn't the way to the Palace. Saprosantos said that the plans had been changed, the meeting was to take place at a secret spot. Carter watched the driver turn into Fort Bonafacio and drive up to the iron gates of the American cemetary where there were acres of white crosses of the war dead. The guards at the gate opened it to admit the Mercedes. Carter looked at his partner and they both whispered that something was wrong. When the car stopped near the circular memorial Carter saw Colonel Lachica and his aide Major Olivas. He was still nervous, but he decided that Ver and the President were in another car and planned to meet them there. But, why such an eerie setting?
The two Americans were not long in finding out. As the Colonel approached the car he drew a US Army .45 Colt from his belt. He took Carter by the arm and led him from the driveway to a clump of rhododendron bushes. Carter could see his partner being led to other bushes 50 yards away by the Major, who also had his gun drawn. Once inside the bushes he was taken to a freshly dug four foot hole. The Colonel put the gun behind his ear and said that he was sorry, but his orders must be carried out. Carter thought the Colonel was his friend, but he could tell that this was no joke. Trying to regain his dignity he calmly said that the Colonel could pull the trigger, but if he did he would be laying next to Carter in a few days. The Colonel asked him what he meant and Carter said that only he had the maps to the 172 treasure sites and if he was killed Marcos would never be able to recover anyother sites. The Colonel lowered the gun and yelled to the Major something in Tagalog. He was then led back to the monument and seated on a marble bench. He couldn't see his partner, but he didn't hear a shot.
Colonel Lachica called over two burly guards also in civilian clothes. He spoke to them in tagalog and one of them drew a pistol. Carter saw the Colonel walk over to a military jeep and get on the radio. He couldn't hear what was being said. It was a long conversation and ended with the Colonel saying, "yes sir," in English. He came back to Carter and sat down on the bench. He told Carter that they would have to wait. Carter knew why, they were checking with Colonel Villacrusis to see if he had the maps and they were going to search all of their rooms at the hotel. If they found the maps he would be back at that hole fertilizing the bushes. Carter asked about his partner and the Colonel said he was all right. It was a long wait. An eternity to Carter under the circumstances. The Colonel would get up from time to time and talk on the radio.
At one point the Colonel returned and asked Carter if he he knew about an article that appeared in the Washington Post written by Jack Anderson which said that Marcos and several Americans were digging Japanese war treasures in the Santa Maria mountains. He accused Carter or his people of leaking the story. Carter denied any knowledge and assured him that his people were not at fault. In his heart he knew this was true since his people would not have put them at risk. It was well after dark when the Colonel was called to the jeep to answer a radio call. He had a long conversation and finally returned and said he was very sorry for all of this. Carter could return to the hotel and General Ver would meet with him tomorrow. His partner joined him and they were driven back to the hotel. It wasn't until they were safe in his room that he and his partner were able to relax somewhat. Their rooms had been thoroughly searched and all papers and pictures that were in them had been taken. Carter ran to his hiding place and breathed a sigh of relief. The maps were still there. Had they found them he and his partner wouldn't be. They had to get rid of them.
Later that evening Carter and his partner burned the wax coated maps in a hibachi that they had on the outside balcony of their conference room. They scattered the ashes in the breeze from the 10th floor during thedark hours of the morning. They could not relax even when this was done. Carter had sent a coded telex to his office asking that they telex him right back requesting he come home for an annual stockholder's meeting. He never mentioned the cemetery incident for fear that Marcos was monitoring his communications and might have broken his code. Coming back to his room he was followed by a military type wearing civilian clothes who had gotten on the elevator with him. Carter saw the handle of a gun in his waist band. The man got off first and opened a door near Carter's room. Carter looked in and saw a dozen men and several rifles leaning against the bed. He scurried to his room and closed the door. He called his partner to warn him. There was no sleep for Carter or his partner that night.
The requested telex from his office was delivered to his room in the morning. He placed a call to General Ver. His aide said he was out of town and transferred the call to Colonel Lachica. Carter told the Colonel that he and his partner had to go home for a week and read the phoney telex to him. Carter assured the Colonel he would be back and to prove it he was going to keep his rooms and leave all of his clothes and equipment behind. There was no mention of the night before, but Carter sensed that the Colonel was hesitant. He finally said that the General was with the President in Baguio and he would have to radio them for permission. Carter didn't wait, he called the airport and made reservations with United Airlines, an American carrier, for the evening flight. He and his partner packed some light bags leaving everything else behind.
The Colonel called back and said the General had said it was okay providing that Carter kept his hotel rooms and promised to be back in a week. Carter and his partner rushed to the airport hours ahead of the scheduled flight. While packing Carter had told his partner to pack only one small bag that could be carried on board the airplane. He was afraid that someone might slip some drug, guns, or other contraband into them and that would give them an excuse to detain them. At the airport they stood over their bags for the same reason. Once on board the airplane they were still tense until the plane began making speed down the runway. Just before takeoff, the pilot cut back the power and taxied back to the gate. Carter and his partner were sure it was because of them. The cabin door opened and two uniformed Majors and a Colonel entered. The stewardess paged Jack Carter to the open door. Carter approached and the Colonel said he was required to search his baggage.
Carter, who was in First Class, summoned false courage and made a scene. He refused to let them search his on board luggage stating that customs had already examined it. He also said he was an American citizen on an American plane with legal exit permits. The Colonel hesitated and finally called someone on the hand held radio he was carrying. The conversation was in Tagalog and ended with a "yes, Sir". He then told Carter he could return to his seat. Carter and his partner did not breathe again until the plane was airborne and then not until they were well over the Pacific.
President Marcos remained the dictator of the Philippines for another eleven years. By all rights Carter's role in this treasure should have ended with his escaping from the Islands with his life. It would have, except months earlier Carter and his partner had photographed all of the maps with both a polaroid and a 35mm camera. These pictures were sent home along with hundreds of crucial documents. There was no threat to Carter at the time but he wanted to have the pictures to work with whenhe returned home, and anyway they were taking up too much space in his room. Now, having burned the originals, these photographs were the only copies of the maps that existed. He carefully hid them when he finally arrived back in Nevada.
Carter and his partner came home to a living hell. They had gambled everything on the promises of Marcos. They were broke and their business was destroyed. Later they would learn that Marcos had a lot to do with this even while they were still digging at the Teresa site. Marcos made many attempts to entice Carter to return to the Philippines saying that "all is well". From the Ambassador he learned that Marcos had recovered $6 billion from the cruiser Nachi and had already brought up $8 billion in gold from the Teresa site. This was when gold was selling for $38 an ounce. Carter knew from the maps that there was a lot more in both sites. Still 1/11th of $14 billion was tempting, but he remembered the .45 pressed behind his ear. He didn't have enough money for food, but he resisted the temptation. Carter did send a letter to the President demanding his share. There was no reply. In late 1976 Carter read in the newspaper that the Ambassador who was a member of the Leber group was giving a speech in Nevada. He decided to confront him and had prepared another letter for the President this time threatening to go to the press unless Marcos honored his agreement. The Ambassador refused to talk to him, but he took the letter.
Carter and his partner's woes mounted. They had lost everything including their homes. Marcos agitated their stockholders and they had lost a civil suit because they did not have the money to put up a defense. They were indicted for fraud because of the loans they had obtained from the powerful right wing organization. With no money for a defense and with all of their company records stolen they were forced to plead nolo contendere to wire fraud. The loans were arranged by telephone. There were other reasons for this plea, his partner was dying and the court appointed attorney had done nothing to prepare a defense. They were given probation by a Federal Court. Now, as non-convicted felons their careers were over. They moved to Las Vegas hoping to start over. Carter went back to selling cars and his partner went on welfare until he died from a broken heart within two years.
Carter kept track of what was happening in the Philippines as best he could. One day he received a tape of a phone conversation of two Leber group members discussing a contract that General Ver had made with the Chicago Mafia for Carter's assassination. Carter took this threat seriously and sought the advice of U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt. He knew Laxalt since he had been the second in command of his honor guard when Laxalt was the Governor of Nevada. He had prepared 32 hours of audio tapes including many of the phone conversations of the various players. He also provided the Senator with over a thousand copies of the documents that would support the tapes. Laxalt's advice was to go public with the story. He also took the tapes and documents to the U.S. State Department who told him they knew all about the Carter involvement with Marcos. The tapes and documents would be later turned over to a Senate subcommittee.
Meanwhile Carter had gone to see Hank Greenspun, the owner of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He brought in Jack Anderson, the syndicatecolumnist of the Washington Post, to investigate the story. After verifying the tapes and having the signatures on the documents authenticated, both Anderson and the Sun coordinated in writing a lengthy series of articles which were published on the same day that became a media frenzy throughout the world. This was in 1978. Marcos was in trouble and denied everything. He launched a media campaign of his own to counter Carter's story. He also called off the hit squad, but for how long?
The stories had revealed that Carter had escaped with copies of the maps. Marcos was livid. Colonel Villacrusis had lied to him in assuring him that he still possessed the maps. When Marcos finally learned the truth he made many attempts to get Carter to "kiss and make-up". At one point he agreed to send Carter $5 billion worth of gold to Nevada in 747s which would represent Carter's 1/11th share. The planes were loaded and sent, but at the last minute Marcos diverted them to Zurich. Carter would later learn that Marcos had sent Carter's share to Hong Kong and had planned to pay him on the same day these stories were printed. Years later Carter was thankful that he didn't know about this Hong Kong gold for he might have gone to get it and conveniently been killed in the British Colony. During the next eight years there were other attempts to enlist Carter. Carter remained steadfast; he insisted on being paid his share first and then he would give Marcos one map at a time. It never happened. If Carter were to suddenly become very wealthy, the world would know that the treasure stories were real.
These stories deluged Carter with all of the kooks and wannabes in the world. They were coming out of the woodwork. He resisted all of their grandiose schemes. There were two incidents that he took seriously. One involved a son of a famed American aviator and an equally famous astronaut. They had found what they thought was the location of a sunken Japanese hospital ship, the Awa Maru, which was one of the treasure ships that was sunk by an American submarine at the end of the war while on its' way to Manila. One Japanese sailor who had survived the sharks had been rescued and he told of the treasure on board. The second offer involved the Australian government and a well planned removal of treasures from the Island of Corregidor. Carter succumbed to this plan and the outcome was a comedy of errors. With his partner dead, Carter waited patiently until after Marcos was removed from power and was spirited out of the country during the "People's Revolution" in February 1986.
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