Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

John Roubas

Real Name: John Scott Roubas
Aliases: John Cacharubas, Lawrence Esposito, Michael Hildebrandt, John Byrd
Wanted For: Drug Trafficking
Missing Since: March 1988


Details: On March 7, 1988, a burned-out car was found in a remote field near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Inside, police found human remains in the front seat. A fragment of jaw bone and four loose teeth were the only parts of remains that could be used for identification. A week later, an anonymous tipster claimed that the dead man was John Roubas. Roubas was the leader of a multi-million dollar drug network. The operation was headquartered in Puerto Rico; it had a virtual monopoly over cocaine and marijuana distribution in the Midwestern United States.
Investigators obtained dental records from Roubas's dentist in Florida. The pathologist identified the teeth as belonging to Roubas. At first, investigators assumed that they had finally found Roubas, who was wanted in multiple countries. However, rumors began to swirl that the dead man was not Roubas and that he had actually faked his death to avoid prosecution.
Roubas had multiple marijuana plantations in Jamaica, Panama, and Colombia. Planes transported the drugs to Puerto Rico, where they were re-packaged and then sent to the United States through Milwaukee and Chicago. Between 1981 and 1985, Roubas had brought at least $30 million worth of drugs into the United States. His operation was stealthy and efficient; the drugs were dropped from planes into the waters near Puerto Rico, where boats were already waiting to pick them up. Often, Roubas was at the beaches when the drugs came in. The drugs were brought to a hidden processing plant in the Puerto Rican highlands. The drugs were broken down into one-pound packages, which can be easily smuggled into the United States.
Roubas was known for being ruthless when running his operation. In one instance, one of his pilots was suspected of running his own smuggling operation using a company plane. He held a shotgun to the man's head and threatened to kill him. Because of his ruthlessness, it took investigators years to infiltrate his operation and find his headquarters. By December of 1987, United States investigators had enough evidence to charge thirty-seven members of the operation. Everyone was arrested, except for Roubas. He vanished until he was apparently found a few months later.
Puerto Rican investigators soon identified the alleged killers. Donald Kurtzer was a former associate of Roubas; he was convicted of masterminding the hit. Allegedly, Roubas was killed in retaliation for raping Kurtzer's girlfriend and the fourteen-year-old daughter of Kurtzer's housekeeper. According to investigators, on the night of his death, Roubas arrived at the airport in San Juan. While there, he met with two women; one of the women was later convicted as an accomplice. They drove him to a deserted area on the outskirts of town. One hit-man shot Roubas to death while the other doused the car with gasoline and set it on fire.
Officially, Roubas was dead. However, just a few months after the "murder", his former associate, Richard, received a call from him. He was certain that the caller was Roubas, as he had known him for several years. Some of his other associates also came forward, claiming to have seen him or talked to him after the "murder". Investigators also believe that Roubas was too smart to have been caught in the trap that apparently led to his death.
Some believe that the identification may have been staged and that Roubas is still alive. They suspect that he may have extracted his own teeth to fake the identification. Police also are searching for two accomplices: Adolph Arture and Jose Varga.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the October 2, 1994 episode.
Results: Solved. DNA testing from a jaw fragment found at the scene was matched to Roubas's teeth. Officially, investigators have closed his case. However, some still believe that he may have gotten away.