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Cryptonym: AMDOFF-1

Definition:
Juan Orta, Director of the Office of the Prime Minister from 1959-1961. Described as Fidel Castro's private secretary. A probable double agent of the US government.
Status:
Probable
Discussion:
John Newman has a good description of "the CIA-Mob AMDOFF-1 Operation" at p. 337 of Countdown to Darkness, Volume 2 in his series on the assassination.
Sources:

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/prio/Prio-FBI.pdf

FBI memo, page 55 of 95: "...the Miami Club of the July 26 movement technically dissolved in August or September of 1956, but...the movement continues with the leadership having been taken over by CARLOS PRIO, with JUAN ORTA as one of his principal aides. It is to be recalled that ORTA was the first president of the Patriotic Club, July 26, Miami...although JUAN CHEDA is still technically the president of the Patriotic Club, JUAN ORTA is the most active member of the Movement and takes his orders from PRIO."

104-10102-10153: JUAN AGUSTIN DE LA CARIDAD ORTA Y CORDOVA

Undated and incomplete CIA document describes Orta as Director of the Office of the Prime Minister from 1959-1961, known as Fidel Castro's private secretary. "Orta (redacted) was used as a penetration of the top-level Castro government circles for the purpose of collecting information of government policies and attitudes." He was paid $400 a month, and was laid off during 1966 when he had no more to offer. Orta sought asylum in the Venezuelan embaasy on 4/11/61, and became the responsibility of the Mexican embassy when Venezuela broke relations with Cuba during November 1961. Only 1964 was Orta able to get safe conduct out of Cuba.

1993.07.19.18:38:03:930390 NEW CIA CONSIDERATIONS ON SYNDICATE OPERATION AGAINST CASTRO

CIA document: Frank Sturgis claimed that he recruited Orta to work in Castro's office. Analyst uncertain whether not this was true, concluded Sturgis probably did know Orta in Cuba. Orta was used in assassination attempts on Castro before his departure. At page 6 of 9, the document states that following collapse of the Orta channel, Roselli turned to Tony Varona. Document unsigned, 3/31/77.

104-10174-10132: BIOGRAPHIC DATA: COBB, JUNE

This bio states that Celia Sanchez (Fidel's compatriot and mistress) told AMDOFF-1 to employ June Cobb in the press section of Fidel's office.

124-90137-10079: No Title

Jose Paz Novas, a G-2 lieutenant in the Castro government, reported: "In 1959 and the first part of 1960, I had contact in Havana, Cuba, with Juan Orta, Secretary of Fidel Castro, Prime Minister of Cuba. Orta told me about April 1960 that Manolito Arques was chief of an intelligence group working for Orta in Miami, Florida...Arques had a job as clerk in the Hotel American in Miami during 1959 and the first part of 1960." (At p. 23): Arques denied he was ever an intelligence agent for Juan Orta or a member of G-2 or any orientation towards espionage. Admitted sending messages to Orta about "Batistianos in the United States". He was the co-defendant of gunrunner Robert McKeown in a 1958 case. During Nov. 1960 he resigned from the Cuban Tourist Commission in Miami because he was alienated from the Castro government. (at p. 32) Rev. Eduardo Aguirre of Miami accused Arques of being the head of the Cuban Communists in the US. Arques emphatically denied it.

104-10175-10257: MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD: IN VIEW OF THE RECENT LIFTING OF THE RESTRICTIONS ON THE ATTEMPTED INDUCED

February 1961: Efforts made to help AMDOFF-1 defect, spearheaded by June Pierson while working with AMUPAS-1/Cobb.

104-10175-10222: MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD: COBB WAS CONTACTED TELEPHONICALLY AT 1750PM ON 27 MARCH 1961

3/27/61: Cobb is identified as going to Cambridge next Saturday. Her new mailing address is "Technical Publishers Service" in NYC. The memo adds that "Barnes, Godoy and Cobb" will be the initial working group for the Latin American branch of the UN, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Economic Commission of Latin America based in Santiago, Chile.

104-10175-10221: MEMORANDUM: AMDOFF/1

3/29/61 - WH/4/FI Jean Pierson writes a note addressed to "Chief FI/D, Bill Harvey" about items of info Guerra, "former Intelligence Chief in the Prime Minister's office under Juan Orta". She writes that "this file contains the entire AMDOFF/1 operation to date." The information came from June Cobb, as June was planning to be in Cambridge, Mass, as shown in this next post.

104-10175-10231: BIO NOTE: ALFREDO GUERRA AQUTAR

Cobb's notes on Alfredo Guerra referred to in the 3/29/61 post above: She identifies him as Orta's interpreter who aided Orta with his various intelligence projects.

104-10295-10032: CABLE:PLS REVIEW AND PASS FOLLOWING TO DWAKIQ:

3/30/61 cable operational immediate, from JMRIMM to BELL: "For Henry. Jose Orta says his brother Juan (in) haste (to) find clandestine means to leave. You should activate plan (to) get out in your Meg 51 and report results. For your info Cubela told ILLEGIBLE he being followed. Thus we suggest you ignore him for present unless you can circumvent surveillance."

1993.08.05.15:01:22:810028: SECURITY FILE ON MANUEL ANTONIO DE VARONA Y LOREDO

1976 CIA memo after the killing of John Rosselli: "Juan Orta - born 28 May 1906 in Batabano, Cuba...Orta was an official of the Castro government circa 1960-61 and was a contact of Santos Trafficante. Orta was originally selected by Trafficante to make the assassination attempt against Castro. As of 1965 Orta was residing in Mexico City..." His wife and children were living in the US and he was trying to live with them.

Contributors:
Bill Simpich

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