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Cryptonym: AVALANCHE

Definition:
Montevideo Police Department. Philip Agee claimed in his book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, that AVALANCHE was the cryptonym for the Montevideo Police Department. It was apparently a liaison service between Montevideo Police and the CIA's Montevideo, Uruguay, Station.
Status:
Probable
Discussion:
In addition, two cables in March of 1960 mention AVALANCHE in relation to a scheduled visit to Montevideo by the anti-Castro Cuban leader, Manuel Artime Buesa (AMBIDDY-1). AVALANCHE was also mentioned in a cable on November 23, 1963.
Sources:

104-10163-10162: ACCORDING TRAVEL MANIFESTS AND AVANT, ARTIME NOT YET IN MONT

03/28/60: Cable from Montevideo to Director: REF HAVA 3868 (IN 17775)* "1. According travel manifests and AVANT, Artime not yet in MONT. Roger Cano, Assistant Manager Victoria Plaza Hotel, checked records which fail reveal Artime arrival since 20 March. No mail. 2. Checking with AVALANCHE service. C/S Comment: *If Artime presently located addresses area requested use contact instructions per para 3 MEXI 5146 (IN 42564) and inform him Fidel Castro has issued orders eliminate him." This redacted version has better view of the middle of the cable: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=64017&search=104-10163-10162#relPageId=2&tab=page

104-10163-10160: ARTIME ARRIVE RIOD 25 MARCH FROM BUEN.

03/29/60: Cable from Montevideo to Director (Orig: Jeanne Linton, Unit: WH/2/RP): RE MONT-3661 (IN 18955)* "Artime arrived RIOD 25 March from BUEN bypassing MONT because schedule required arrival New York on 31 March. CS Comment: *Mont Station checking with AVALANCHE to determine whereabouts of Artime who not yet in Mont."

104-10300-10265: CABLE REGARDING (FNU) PIANZI'S CALL TO CUBAN EMBASSY ON 20 NOV.

11/23/63: Cable from Montevideo to Director: "1. (FNU) Pianzi (phonetic) called PBRUMEN (Cuban) Emb (Handwritten: 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 from 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 yrs old, has been registered there since 28 October 63. AVALANCHE and Station traces negative. 3. Altho realize that chances remote that conversation (unintelligible) connected with Pres Kennedy assassination, request traces on Pianzi (Note: or Dianzi) 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..."

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Pages 301-302: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

..."AVALANCHE. The main public security force in Uruguay is the Montevideo Police Department - cryptonym AVALANCHE — with which liaison relations date to just before World War II when the FBI was monitoring the considerable pro-Nazi tendencies in Uruguay and Argentina. In the late 1940s, when the CIA station was opened, a number of joint operations were taken over from the FBI including the telephone-tapping project. Although police departments exist in the interior departments of Uruguay, the technical superiority and other capabilities of the Montevideo police almost always produce decisions by Ministers of the Interior that important cases be handled by AVALANCHE even when outside Montevideo. As in Ecuador, the Minister of the Interior is in charge of the police, and station liaison with civilian security forces begins with the Minister, currently a Blanco politician named Felipe Gil whom Holman meets regularly. Holman also meets regularly, or whenever necessary, Colonel Ventura Rodriguez, Chief of the Montevideo Police; Carlos Martin, Deputy Chief; Inspector Guillermo Copello, Chief of Investigations; Inspector Juan Jose Braga, Deputy Chief of Investigations; Commissioner Alejandro Otero, Chief of the Intelligence and Liaison Department; Colonel Roberto Ramirez, Chief of the Guardia Metropolitana (the anti-riot shock force); Lieutenant-Colonel Mario Barbe, Chief of the Guardia Republicana (the paramilitary police cavalry); and others. Of these the most important are the Minister, Chief of Police, Chief of Intelligence and Liaison and Chief of the Guardia Metropolitana, who supervises the telephone-tapping operation..." (CONTINUED BELOW)

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee, Page 302: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

"As in Argentina, the political sensitivity of an AID Public Safety Mission for improving police capabilities has precluded such a Mission in Uruguay and restricted police assistance to what overall demands on station manpower allow. But whereas in Argentina a non-official cover operations, officer has for some years been ostensibly contracted by the Argentine Federal Police to run telephone-tapping and other joint operations, in Uruguay these tasks have been handled by station officers under official cover in the Embassy. Until January all the tasks relating to AVALANCHE were handled by the Deputy Chief of Station, but Holman took over these duties when Wiley Gilstrap, the Deputy, was transferred to become Chief of Station in San Salvador and replaced by O'Grady, whose Spanish is very limited. The station long-range plans continue to be the establishment of an AID Public Safety Mission that would include a CIA officer in order to release station officers in the Embassy for other tasks. However, such a development will have to wait until a strong Minister of the Interior who will fight for the Public Safety Mission appears on the scene. On the other hand Uruguayan police officers are being sent by the station for training at the Police Academy, which has changed its name to the International Police Academy and is moving from Panama to Washington. Of the activities undertaken by the police on behalf of the station, the most important is the AVENGEFUL telephone-tapping operation. Other activities are designed to supplement the station unilateral collection programme and to keep the police from discovering these operations. Apart from telephone tapping these other activities are effected through the Department of Intelligence and Liaison..."

Inside the Company, CIA Diary (1975) by Philip Agee: Page 303: https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-DAzR701tP2dL_DNu/inside-the-company-cia-diary-philip-agee_djvu.txt

..."Biographical Data and Photographs. Uruguay has a national voter registration that is effectively an identification card system. From the AVALANCHE service we obtain full name, date and place of birth, parents' names, address, place of work, etc., and identification photos of practically any Uruguayan or permanent resident alien. This material is valuable for surveillance operations of the AVENIN and AVBANDY teams, for the Subversive Control Watch List and for a variety of other purposes. - - - Page 304: ..."The overall cost of the AVALANCHE project, apart from AVENGEFUL telephone tapping, is about 25,000 dollars per year. ..." - - - Page 341: ..."The competence of the AVALANCHE service is similarly limited in its attempts to suppress terrorist activities. Undoubtedly some of the bombings at the time relations with Cuba were broken were the work of the terrorist group led by Raul Sendic. Last March Sendic returned from several months in hiding in Argentina after an arms theft from a shooting club in Colonia. He arrived in a light aircraft at a small airport near Montevideo, but when discovered he simply rushed past the police guard and escaped in a waiting truck. The following month 4000 sticks of dynamite were stolen from a quarry and a few days later enough caps and fuses to explode it disappeared from another site. All the police could report was that these thefts may have been the work of the Sendic band. Building up the police is like labour operations — we're still at the beginning with a long road ahead requiring training, equipment, money and lots of patience..."

See Also:
Contributors:
Philip Agee • Gavin McDonald

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