Caught! Domestic Spies Nailed by the FBI

Shadows of two men with briefcase shaking hands, side view

Photo courtesy of tes.com.

There have been, and continue to be—spies among us. These deceitful individuals have (or maneuver their way into) important positions within various American intelligence agencies. Once entrenched into a position of relative importance with high level security clearance, the infiltrators pilfer confidential information for foreign governments in exchange for, usually, a hefty sum of money.

Although the world of international espionage may not be as sexy and glamorous as a 007 flick, the rewards seem to make it worthwhile for a handful of intelligence moles. Here are the stories of a few spies that were rightfully busted by the FBI, and brought to justice for their treasonous acts.

Anna Montes

Ten days after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US, the FBI arrested a 44-year-old woman named Ana Belen Montes. Although she had absolutely no involvement with the attacks, her arrest still had great value in providing security to our nation during a dark and insecure period.

Montes, a senior analyst for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was spying for the Cubans, and in her position, she would shortly have had access to highly classified information concerning America’s forthcoming invasion of Afghanistan.

In 1984, Montes held a clerical position with the Department of Justice. At that time, Montes was very outspoken with respect to her opposition towards America’s foreign policy with Cuba. This led to Montes being covertly contacted by Cuban intelligence, who believed she would be sympathetic to their “cause.”

And Cuba’s instinct was accurate. Because, in 1985, Montes applied for a position as an intelligence analyst with the DIA, and was quickly hired. By that point, she was a full-fledged Cuban spy, who had access to highly classified data at the Pentagon.

Montes was crafty. She never removed any documents or electronic information from the Pentagon. Rather, she memorized the materials, and typed the information on her home laptop. Montes then transferred the data to an encrypted disk, and awaited transfer instructions via short wave radio from her Cuban handlers.

The FBI eventually nailed Montes for her espionage, and in 2002, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Outside of reimbursement for travel costs, Montes never received compensation from Cuba for her actions, because she was entirely motivated by ideology.

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Photo courtesy of popsi.com.

Brian P. Regan

On August 23, 2001, Brian P. Regan – a former Air Force intelligence officer and father of four – was arrested by FBI agents in connection with his theft of highly classified materials from the National Reconnaissance Office. Regan’s intent was straightforward – he was going to sell the stolen data and documents to Iraq, Libya and China for $13 million.

Regan’s arrest took place at Dulles International Airport, where he was attempting to embark upon a flight from Washington, D.C. to Switzerland. At the time of his apprehension by the FBI, Regan was in possession of contact information for foreign diplomats, as well as encrypted notes.

During its investigation, the FBI discovered that Regan had stolen a significant amount of classified items, which included encoded tactical information and photographs of Iraqi missile sites.

Prior to his arrest, Regan had buried (deep underground) his treasure trove of stolen items in a myriad of locations in and around the Washington, D.C area. He kept track of the locations on a small piece of paper that he hid in a toothbrush holder, which he also buried (underneath an exit sign off an interstate highway.)

Regan was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2003. Interestingly, his life sentence was a plea bargain in exchange for fully cooperating in locating the stolen, buried items.

The Year of the Spy: 1985

According to the FBI, there were a number of significant arrests made in 1985 involving acts of espionage. Here are the stories of two of the offenders.

John Anthony Walker, Jr.

Walker was a US Navy Warrant Officer and communications specialist. He was also a spy for the Soviet Union. Over the course of 17 years, Walker furnished the Soviets with at least one million classified messages.

Walker also recruited three other people into his espionage ring. After a tip from his ex-wife, the FBI moved in and arrested Walker, who was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

Larry Wu-tai Chin

For almost 30 years, Chin worked as a Chinese language translator and intelligence officer for the CIA. During that time, Chin was also furnishing China with classified photographs and documents, which included CIA reports on affairs in the Far East.

Chin was busted by the FBI for his treason, and convicted on November 22, 1985. Chin never served a prison term, because he committed suicide before being sentenced.

Truth is absolutely stranger than fiction in these tales of deceit, treason and eventual justice. Are there are any other espionage stories that you find particularly intriguing?

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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