This Date in History: Sloppy Tradecraft Dooms Cuba’s Mata Hari 1

July 5, 1969:  Cuban agent Jennifer Miles loaded her “dead drop” with her latest progress report.  In her case, the dead drop was a loose brick in the wall of a building.  On this occasion, however, the building superintendent found her dead drop and notified the FBI.  Based on details provided in her progress report, the FBI identified Miles as the likely spy within 48 hours.   However, the Bureau did not know for whom she was spying.  On July 9, 1969, the FBI placed her under surveillance. 

Strikingly beautiful, Miles was tall, blue-eyed, blonde, and captivating.   She used her duties as a clerk typist at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC to meet young diplomats who invited her to their embassy parties.  She then used these venues as a means to spot and assess potential American targets.  The FBI, which partnered with South African Intelligence on the investigation, monitored her activities until October 1970.  When confronted about her espionage , she quickly confessed and cooperated fully with her FBI debriefing.  Based in part upon this cooperation, she was later allowed to return home to South Africa.

Editor’s Note:  A “dead drop” allows two individuals to use a secret location to leave materials.  Its use permits a spy-handler and his agent to exchange objects and information without having to meet. 


One comment

  1. This sounds like a suspicious story. In all likelihood, Jennifer Miles was probably outted by a Cuban defector and placed under surveillance. When spotted using the brick, a ruse was probably created to have the superintendent “discover” the brick and report it and therefore cover the source of the information.

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