In one of the enduring unknowns of life, the mystery of Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance still survives. Whatever happened to the former teamster boss? No one seems to know. Several tips and trails have led nowhere.
The former teamster boss disappeared 35 years ago and was declared legally dead in 1982. Over that time span authorities have searched 15 sites where he might be buried. Today they descended on yet another site.
That site is in the suburbs of Detroit apparently owned by the mobsters. The FBI says new information led them to the site in the Oakland Township, north of Detroit.
According to authorities, this new information came from the aging alleged Mafia head, Tony Zerilli. In February Zerilli had told an NBC station that he knew where Hoffa was buried. Zerilli, who is in his 80’s, told the news station that Hoffa was buried in a Michigan field, about 20 miles north of the location of his last sighting in 1975.
According to sources, after Zerilli made this disclosure, the FBI spent months looking into his claims. They then sought a court order to mine the field and look for evidence of a shallow grave.
According to media reports, the FBI said the information that led them to this search was “highly credible.”
An FBI Special Agent told reporters at the scene on Monday, that the information leading to the search “reached the threshold of probable cause, which was sufficient to allow us to obtain a search warrant.”
The Special Agent added, “If it didn’t rise to that level then, certainly, we wouldn’t be out here.”
Federal agents spent Monday ploughing the waist-high grassy field. The area being searched was described as small. By late afternoon, there were no new developments. The FBI plans to resume digging Tuesday.
Jimmy Hoffa was president of the Teamsters Union from 1957 to 1971.
In 1975 he mysteriously vanished after going to a Detroit-area restaurant to supposedly meet New Jersey Teamsters chief and a Detroit Mafia boss.
Zerilli said, contrary to previous theories, Hoffa’s disappearance was not tied to crime boss Anthony “Tony” Provensano of the New Jersey Genovese family. Instead, according to sources, Zerilli claims that it was the Detroit mobsters who were responsible for Hoffa’s disappearance. They wanted Hoffa dead.
At the time, according sources, Hoffa was planning to get back into back into a power position in the labor movement, after being released from prison in 1971. He had been imprisoned after being convicted in 1967 for jury tampering and fraud. In 1971, then President Richard Nixon pardoned him.
Hoffa, was last seen on July 30, 1975, outside a Detroit-area restaurant. He was 62 years of age. At that time, the FBI had surmised that his disappearance could have been linked to his determination to reclaim power in the Teamsters and to the mob’s influence over the union’s pension funds.
At the time of Hoffa’s disappearance, Zerilli himself was in prison, after being convicted of involvement with organized crime in Detroit, according to reports.
Upon being released from prison in 2008, Zerilli, according to the sources, inquired of a mob enforcer about Hoffa’s disappearance. Zerilli was told that Detroit’s crime bosses had ordered Hoffa killed. According to sources, Zerilli told authorities that Hoffa was lured to the meeting at the Detroit-area restaurant and then driven to a farm owned by the mobs. According to sources, Zerilli said Hoffa was killed and buried at the property.
Hoffa’s disappearance and the mystery surrounding the episode have hounded investigators since his last reported sighting outside the Detroit-area restaurant. Authorities have pursued various tips. In October of last year, the FBI took soil samples from a suburban Detroit community after receiving a tip from a person who claimed he witnessed a body being buried in a the day after Hoffa disappeared. No evidence of human remains were found.
Zerilli has denied playing any role in Hoffa’s disappearance.
By Perviz Walji