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Cryptonym: AVENGEFUL

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Telephone tapping operation by the CIA's Montevideo Station. AVENGEFUL was the source for a cable on November 23, 1963. It involved a telephone call to the Cuban Embassy in Montevideo.
Philip Agee, in his book, Inside the Company, CIA Diary, stated that AVENGEFUL was the CIA Montevideo station's "telephone-tapping operation which was effected through the AVALANCHE liaison service (the Montevideo Police Department) with a history dating back to World War II when the FBI was in charge of counter-intelligence in South America."


11/23/63: Cable from Montevideo to Director: "1. (FNU) Pianzi (phonetic) called PBRUMEN Emb (Handwritten note: Cuban Emb?) 20 Nov to request urgent appointment with charge. Said he had news 'of importance to the nation' and that he would have all necessary documentation ready by 1400 hours. Appointment was postponed until 21 Nov as charge was not available. Pianzi gave a downtown address and appeared to be out of town. As he unfamiliar with city. (Source AVENGEFUL, B-2). 2. AVALANCHE-6 subsequently checked hotel register at address given above and noted that Dandol Dianzi, Argentine, Arg identity Cedula 5, 521,352 bachelor, 39 years old, has been registered there since 28 October 63. AVALANCHE and station traces negative. 3. Altho realize that chances remote that conversation para 1 connected with Pres Kennedy assassination, request traces on Pianzi. BUEN: (REDACTION) may be queried on unwitting basis."

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Page 295: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

..."AVENGEFUL. The station telephone-tapping operation is effected through the AVALANCHE liaison service (the Montevideo Police Department) with a history dating back to World War II when the FBI was in charge of counter-intelligence in South America. This is currently the most important joint operation underway between the station and an Uruguayan service. Connections are made in telephone company exchanges by company engineers at the request of the police department. A thirty-pair cable runs from the main downtown exchange to police headquarters where, on the top floor, the listening post is located. The chief technician, Jacobo de Anda, and the assistant technician and courier, Juan Torres, man the LP, which has tables with actuators and tape-recorders for each of the thirty pairs. Torres arranges for lines to be connected by the telephone company engineers and he delivers the tapes each day to another courier, AVOIDANCE, who takes them around to the transcribers who work either at home or in safe site offices. This courier also picks up the transcriptions and old tapes from the transcribers and passes them to Torres who sends them to the station each day with yet another courier who works for the Intelligence Department of the police. The police department thus arranges for connections and operates the LP. The courier AVOIDANCE is a station agent known only to Torres among the police department personnel involved. Each of the transcribers is unknown to the police department but copies of all the transcriptions, except in special cases, are provided by the station to the police intelligence department." (CONTINUED BELOW).

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Pages 295-296: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

"Each of the transcribers is unknown to the police department but copies of all the transcriptions, except in special cases, are provided by the station to the police intelligence department. Each operations officer in the station who receives telephone coverage of targets of interest to him is responsible for handling the transcribers of his lines: thus the Soviet operations officer, Russell Phipps, is in charge of the two elderly Russian emigres who transcribe (in English) the Soviet lines; the CP officer, Paul Burns, is in charge of the transcribers of the Cuban lines. Most of the transcribers are kept apart from one another as well as from the police department. The station, which provides technical equipment and financing for the operation, deals directly with the Chief of the Guardia Metropolitana, who is the police department official in overall charge of the telephone-tapping operation. He is usually an Army colonel or lieutenant-colonel detailed to run the Guardia Metropolitana, the paramilitary shock force of the police. Currently he is Colonel Roberto Ramirez. Usually he assigns lines to be tapped as part of his operations against contraband operations which also provides cover for the station lines which are political in nature. Torres and de Anda work under the supervision of the Chief of the Guardia Metropolitana although approval in principle for the operation comes from the Minister of the Interior (internal security) and the Chief of the Montevideo Police Department. The station encourages the use of telephone tapping against contraband activities not only because it's good cover but also because police contraband operations are lucrative to them and such operations tend to offset fears of political scandal depending upon who happens to be Minister of the Interior at any particular time." (CONTINUED BELOW)

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Page 296: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

"Only seven lines are being monitored right now. They include three lines on Soviet targets (one on the Embassy, one on the Consulate and another that alternates between a second Embassy telephone and the Soviet Commercial Office), two on Cuban targets (one on the Embassy and one on the Commercial Office), one on a revolutionary Argentine with close associations with the Cubans, and one line assigned to the headquarters of the Communist Party of Uruguay. Security is a serious problem with the AVENGEFUL operation because so many people know of it: former ministers and their subordinates, former police chiefs and their subordinates, current officers in the Guardia Metropolitana and the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Departments. Copies of the transcriptions prepared for the police intelligence department are considered very insecure because of the poor physical security of the department despite continuous station efforts to encourage tightening. Regular denunciations of telephone tapping by the police appear in the PCU newspaper, El Popular, but without the detail that might require shutting down the operation. Telephone tapping in Montevideo, then, is very shaky with many possibilities for serious scandal..."

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Page 293: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

..."AVBLINKER. When the station decided to set up an observation post in front of the Cuban Embassy it was decided to man the OP with AVENGEFUL-7, who is the wife of AVANDANA, his assistant in the AVIDITY letter intercept, and an occasional transcriber for the AVENGEFUL telephone-tapping operation. The OP is in a large house across the street from the Embassy in the elegant Carrasco section of Montevideo. The station pays the rent for AVBLINKER- 1 and 2, an American couple who live in the OP house (the husband is employed by an Uruguayan subsidiary of an American company) and AVENGEFUL-7 spends each day in an upstairs front-room taking photographs of persons entering and leaving, and maintaining a log with times of entry and exit and other comment that she reconciles with the photographs which are processed by AVANDANA. AVENGEFUL-7's work with US intelligence also goes back to World War II days when she worked behind enemy lines in Europe. In addition to the logs and photographs, AVENGEFUL-7 also serves as a radio base for the AVENIN surveillance team which works most of the time on Cuban targets. From the Op she signals by radio when the subject to be followed leaves the Embassy — with different signals if by foot, by car, or by one street or another. The team waits in vehicles four or five blocks away and picks up the subject. The logs and photographs are passed to Hatry who also passes back instructions on surveillance targets.

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Pages 328-329, : https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

..."Montevideo 20 July 1964...We've had serious trouble in the AVENGEFUL/AVALANCHE telephone- tapping operation. AVOIDANCE, the courier who takes the tapes around to the transcribers, reported to Paul Burns, his case officer, that a briefcase full of tapes was taken from the trunk of his car while he was on his rounds making pick-ups and deliveries. AVOIDANCE has no idea whether the tapes were taken by a common thief or by the enemy. Although he claims he has been very careful to watch for surveillance (negative), the chances are that the tapes will be listened to, even if only stolen by a thief, in order to determine saleability. After a discussion with Holman and Burns, I advised Commissioner Otero and Colonel Ramirez, Chief of the Metropolitan Guard, that we had lost some tapes and believe all the lines except the Cuban Embassy should be disconnected. Ramirez agreed that the Cuban line should be retained because of our coming OAS meeting and the possibility of a break in relations with Cuba...For the time being AVOIDANCE will be eliminated from the operation although he will go through the motions of a daily routine very similar to normal while continuing to watch for surveillance. The tapes of the Cuban line will be sent over to the station with the daily police intelligence couriers and we will give them to Tomas Zafiriadis, who is an Uruguayan employee of the Embassy Commercial Section. He will serve as courier between the station and his wife (AVENGEFUL-3) who transcribes the Cuban Embassy line. His wife's sister (AVENGEFUL-5), the transcriber of the PCU Headquarters line, will also help on the Cuban Embassy line since her line is being disconnected. Using an Embassy employee like this is-against the rules but Holman is willing to risk the Ambassador's wrath to keep the Cuban Embassy line going..."

See Also:
Philip Agee • Gavin McDonald

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