We stuffed Carlos Ghosn in a 3ft box to flee Japan: he owes us $1 million

Carlos Ghosn, once known as the cost killer, is known to have revived failing auto companies. Then, in 2018, he was arrested in Tokyo.

A year later, he might as well have been nicknamed the “escape artist” when he was smuggled into a music case by a special forces veteran and smuggled out of the country. The unlikely conspiracy actually succeeded.

In the end, however, the multimillionaire is said to have left behind bars his accomplices who got out of hand.

“Most people won’t remember [Ghosn’s business skills]”, Sean McLain, co-writer of “Boundless”, about whom the new documentary “Wanted: The Escape of Carlos Ghosn‘ (out August 25 on Apple TV+), The Post said. “You will remember how he smuggled himself out of Japan.”

Carlos Ghosn jubilantly gets out of the car
Carlos Ghosn went from turnaround king – he worked for Renault and Nissan – to Tokyo jailer.

Music case in which Carlos Ghosn fled Japan
The music case that Carlos Ghosn was stuffed into to flee Japan after being dusted for fingerprints.

After Ghosn managed to turn around the French car manufacturer Renault and the mighty Nissan, he became a hero in Japan.

He was named one of the men Japanese women would most like to have a child with. He came to look like this: he lost his nerd glasses, got a good haircut, and wore slim-fitting suits.

But after Ghosn took a 50 percent pay cut (which dropped his Nissan salary to around $10 million), he was accused of financial inadequacy.

“If the allegations against him are true, he’s made $50 million [from Nissan]’ McLain said. “Carlos was one of the most prominent automobile executives of our generation. He jeopardized his inheritance for money.”

Carlos Ghosn in custody in Japan
Ghosn was jailed twice in Japan after being charged and was then released under house arrest.

House where Carlos Ghosn was held.
Ghosn was being held at this Tokyo home under allegedly tight security. But realizing his handlers had left by the time the press arrived, he made a false press availability statement – and then fled.
Getty Images

Ghosn insisted that Nissan had plotted against him. Japanese authorities arrested Ghosn at a Tokyo airport on November 19, 2018 as he attempted to enter the country.

Lebanon-born and close-knit Ghosn went in and out of prison twice, spending more than $10 million in total to pay his bail.

Conditions included: He was forbidden to communicate with his wife. Security guards monitored his comings and goings.

That arrangement didn’t work for Ghosn. He feared a guilty verdict or a year-long pending trial.

Peter and Mike Taylor
Peter and Mike Taylor, the father-son team that orchestrated Carlos Ghosn’s escape.

Taylor Sr. was a veteran of the Green Berets.  He is holding his son.
Taylor Sr. was a Green Beret until becoming a high school football coach.

Through family contacts, Mike Taylor, a former Green Beret football coach and later high school football coach, was recruited to organize Ghosn’s escape.

“Mike is really motivated by injustice,” James Jones, director of the documentary, told The Post. “He probably liked the challenge. Getting rid of Japan’s most notorious criminals is like climbing Mount Everest.”

Of the escape plan, Taylor said in the documentary, “I had to find weak points. I looked at what I could use as an advantage and what could go wrong. If we wanted to bring him to Lebanon, there were two ways out: by land or by sea. But it was December and the sea was rough.”

Air was the remaining option. “[Customs authorities] Don’t check bags on your way out of Japan,” Taylor said. “They check them on the way there. That was a vulnerability that we could capitalize on. I would put him in a box.”

Grand Hyatt Tokyo
Exterior view of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo where Carlos Ghosn and Mike Taylor first met.

The boxes Ghosn was smuggled out with
Ghosn was stuffed into the larger of the three boxes – the other two being decoys – and then wheeled unchecked and with a guitar case on top onto the private plane booked for him.
Istanbul Police Department

Another problem was getting Ghosn out of his monitored home. Ghosn deftly discovered that the minders were gone for a few days when the media came to fill in on his situation. Before leaving, he wanted to turn on the media.

This was conveyed to Taylor via an untraceable burner phone bought on the black market. Fearing his house was bugged, Ghosn chatted in the bathroom while the shower was on and a radio was blaring.

On December 29, 2019, Taylor landed in Osaka on a flight from the United States. He had custom-made musical instrument cases with him.

As expected, the boxes were inspected on the way there. He checked into a hotel in Osaka before proceeding to the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo, a sister hotel to the hotel where Lost in Translation was filmed.

Taylor at Istanbul Airport
Taylor (centre) became a wanted man because authorities were able to track his movements through Istanbul Airport after he successfully returned Ghosn to Lebanon.

Mike Taylor in the mug shot
Mike Taylor after being arrested for involvement in the Carlos Ghosn escape.

After journalists inadvertently cleared the shore, Ghosn slipped out of his home unnoticed. He met Taylor in room 933 at the Hyatt. Shortly thereafter, the two men took the train to Osaka, while Ghosn wore a mask – which was common in Japan even before Covid – sunglasses and a hat.

In the hotel room there, it was loaded into a large 48″ x 30″ x 24″ box with air holes drilled in the bottom. “This was nothing but a military operation,” Taylor said in the document. “We had to enter and exit Japan in one day.”

With the help of Taylor’s son Peter, Ghosn was transported to Osaka’s private airport. To make things look good, Mike Taylor placed a guitar with Ghosn inside on the case.

As the Taylors and Ghosn sweated over the escape, officers joked. “You must have a very pretty wife in that box you’re taking from Japan,” one of them said to Mike.

A Carlos Ghosn sign in Lebanon
Ghosn’s escape to his native Lebanon made him a local hero, but that didn’t help the Taylors.

Carlos Ghosn's home in Beirut, Lebanon
Home where Carlos Ghosn settled in Beirut, Lebanon. This time the security guard is there to protect him, not monitor him.

After a nerve-wracking deceleration, the plane rolled and the wheels lifted. “I got him off the case,” Mike Taylor said. “He was smiling from ear to ear.”

Ghosn reportedly said to Mike, “You saved my life.”

What Ghosn described as an “impossible mission” was accomplished when he was extradited to his native Lebanon, where his notoriety surpassed that of Japan. One big difference: Lebanon had no extradition policy.

However, it didn’t take long for Ghosn to emerge as there. He held a press conference and stated, “I did not escape justice. I have escaped injustice.”

Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor, a man who stated he could be “a great enemy”.
Courtesy of Apple

Carlos Ghosn
After fleeing to Lebanon, Ghosn spoke to members of the media, including the crew who put “Wanted” together.

Ghosn had no intention of leaving Lebanon. However, the Taylors returned to America and, to their surprise, were extradited to Japan. The punishment there – for helping to escape – was quick and harsh.

Mike and Peter pleaded guilty and received two years and 20 months in prison respectively. “I didn’t hear from Carlos while we were in jail; If someone were to save my life I would do whatever I can to help [him]’ Mike said in the document.

“I spent 17 months in solitary confinement. You have no shoes, you get frostbite, you are not allowed to play sports. My work [while in jail] consisted of tearing up little pieces of paper. It caused me to have blisters. It was a psychological game.”

When asked in the documentary to comment on the Taylors’ predicament, Ghosn said, “We knew from the start the risks involved in an operation like this.”

Ghosn’s wife Carole (left) was drawn into the affair when Taylor texted her asking for her help raising his $1 million.

Sean McLain
Sean McLain co-authored the book on which the documentary, Wanted: The Escape of Carlos Ghosn, is based.
Courtesy of Apple

In the documentary, Mike Taylor claims that he “owed well over $1 million in legal fees … big numbers,” not to mention that he was not compensated for directing the operation.

“A person is ungrateful that you saved their life,” Taylor said. “What can you do about it?”

Taylor even reached out to Ghosn’s wife: “I sent a text saying, ‘What’s wrong with your husband?’ How come he doesn’t pay?’ No Answer…”

From Ghosn’s point of view: “If there’s a victim in the whole story, it’s me.”

When asked if his “history with Carlos was over,” Taylor cryptically replied, “No. It’s far from over.”

IAnticipating where this would all lead, Taylor said, “I’m a great friend. I’m a really loyal friend. But I am also a big enemy.”


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing diza@ustimetoday.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button