Phone tap operations in Mexico City began after WW II when Charles Anderson recruited two employees of the telephone company. By 1955, the Soviet desks considered it the CIA's best tap operation.
"Project LIFEAT began in 1951 as a unilateral wiretap operation, starting with a single tap against the Soviet Legation and, as of mid 1962, covered as many as 30 lines in a single month. During the period August thru October 1963, 24 lines were covered. Project LIFEAT ceased to provide coverage of the entire Soviet official installation in June 1960 when the jointly run project LIENVOY assumed that responsibility. That left LIFEAT free to concentrate on suspected individuals and targets of interest solely to the U.S.G., i.e., Soviet, Satellite and Cuban agents/intelligence operatives resident in Mexico City whose activities were of operational or counterintelligence interest; the project was not designed to provide positive intelligence information...coverage of the official Soviet and Satellite and Cuban installations became a joint operation with the Mexican government, via LIENVOY...during the summer of 1962, a review of the project indicated a growing need for increased CI/CE coverage of selected targets. In addition to the operational targets described here, REDACTED LIFEAT continued to provide information on Cuban exile and other revolutionary groups active in Mexico, the travel of important Communists particularly to Cuba and Iron Curtain countries, and the travel of US citizens, especially Communists and Leftists, to Cuba. Through coverage of the American Communist Group in Mexico (ACGM), LIFEAT provided the FBI with ever increasing amounts of information on the leftist activities of relatives and friends of the ACGM to reside in the US."
Tap recording Dalton Trumbo and his wife as well as Albert Maltz in 1961, two members of the Hollywood 10.
July 1962-May 1963: The homes of four Soviet intelligence officers were covered during this reporting period: Vladilan I. Samokhin, Alexsandr G. Sidorov, Tatiaya Sokolovskaya, and (unlisted, but Svyatolslav F. Kuznetsov is listed on 104-10413-10294). Pouch communications regarding Cubans included the AMSTRUT target (AMSTRUT-2/Juanita Castro and her relatives), Jose Ordoqui (future AMROD target), Albert Maltz, Margaret Maltz, Noah Seborer, and Charles Small of the ACGM, Juan Jose Arevalo (mostly REDACTED) and Judith Ferreto. CI information from AEGENERATE, LISTEED-1, LISTEED-2, and a PCM (Communist Party of Mexico) safehouse. There was also Polish and Yugoslavian coverage, and the other coverage listed in 104-10413-10294. The average of lines covered was 18, with a high of 25 in one month.
July 1963: The leads listed here include two home phones of Soviet intelligence officers (Aleksandr G. Sidorov and Svyatolslav F. Kuznetsov), a suspected Soviet support agent, the Polish commercial offices, the Pole known as BEKNAVE, AMSTRUT-8 and another AMSTRUT target, a Cuban commercial attache (probably AMAUTO-1/Guillermo Ruiz Perez), ESLARD-1/Juan Jose Arevalo (the exiled Guatemalan ex-president), Costa Rican Communist exile Judith Ferreto, David Drucker and Charles Small (Smolikoff) of the American Communist Group in Mexico (ACGM), former SMOTH/MI-6 agent with a literary bent (note: probably John Rettie), two targets of ZRKNICK (operation against Cuban governmental agents) and the home of a Czech intelligence officer.
Sept-Oct. 1963: "There is one qualification which the Chief of Station expects in his reports officers, and in most of his case officers as well, and that is a good working knowledge of Spanish. The transmission of the Spanish language take from the ZRJOINT intercept center and the ZRSOLO listening posts is not delayed by translation, like the product of the Czech, Polish and Yugoslav lines, which stays one day with the various translators."
11/29/63 dispatch from Chief of Station, Mexico City to Chief, WH Division: When combined with 1993.08.10.16:28:38:460007 - it contains the following information: "LIFEAT/ Exile...LIFEAT continuing coverage of ESLARD-1/Juan Jose Arevalo has provided information of interest to (CIA) on (Arevalo's) planned travel and the delays to that travel as well as his future type and place of employment. Coverage of Judith Ferreto Segura provided the land on which the recruitment of LICENTO-1 was based. LICENTO-1 was recruited as an access agent to ILLEGIBLE for possible future recruitment attempt of her...LIFEAT/Miscellaneous - LIFEAT coverage of a former SMOTH agent (note: probably John Rettie) is of interest to REDACTED, Headquarters, and the senior (US government) officer in Mexico. This and the coverage of a related line enable the interested customers to maintain a check on the former REDACTED agent's activities which are against the best interest of the (USA)."