The Miami Herald
May 8, 1980, page 1

FBI Identifies Cubans as Spies

Herald Staff Writer

The FBI has identified at least 20 Cuban spies who have entered Florida since the boatlift of Cuban refugees began two weeks ago.

Hundreds of other boatlift refugees have been scheduled by the FBI for intensive, follow-up interviews to determine if they, too, are spies or have information that may be valuable to the U.S. government.

Refugees are also being interviewed by CIA agents stationed at refugee processing centers at Tamiami Park in west Dade and Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle.

"An extremely small percentage of refugees have been identified as Cuban intelligence officers," Arthur F. Nehrbass, head of the Miami FBI office said Wednesday.

Nehrbass refused to specify how many Cubans had been located. Sources said that at least 20 had been identified and the number is expected to grow.

Most of the spies are thought to be here for the purpose of infiltrating the anti-Castro movement although others have been identified as political intelligence officers.

None of the spies has been detained to date or deported.

"Our first objective," Nehrbass said, "is to neutralize them and turn them to our advantage."

The FBI lacks the authority to deport or detain suspected spies unless they are caught actually engaging in espionage.

Scores of Spanish-speaking agents from the FBI's counter-intelligence section have been involved in the screening and processing of Cuban refugees since the first boats began arriving from the Cuban port of Mariel.

The agents are primarily interested in identifying spies, potential spies and gathering information about conditions in Cuba.

Nehrbass refused to say how Cuban spies are being identified. Sources said that the FBI has developed a physical and psychological profile of Cuban spies similar to the agency's successful profile of airplane hijackers. Suspected spies also have been identified by Cuban exiles here and by other boatlift refugees.

John Aaronshon, head of the CIA's Miami office, refused to discuss the agency's involvement in the screening of refugees.

Dale Peterson, a CIA press spokesman, said the presence of CIA agents was requested by officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has over-all responsibility for all refugee processing efforts.

"We got a call for agents with linguistic abilities," Peterson said, suggesting that the CIA had sent agents here simply to work as translators.

However, the CIA's intense interest in the refugees was underscored by the presence here of Robert J. Lavey, the CIA's chief of domestic operations. Lavey flew to Miami last week to attend several meetings with government agencies planning the processing and eventual resettlement of the refugees.

CIA agents are reportedly seeking a wide rang of information about the activities of Russian troops and technicians as well as economic conditions and public attitudes in Cuba. They are also reportedly seeking specific information about persons remaining in Cuba who may be willing to serve as U.S. spies.

"There's nothing better than first-hand information," said on ex-CIA agent. "There are lots of things a [spy] satellite can't tell you -- from certain activities at military bases to, say, the structure of the Ministry of Education. When you're gathering intelligence, you take everything you can get."

Initially the CIA was hesitant to acknowledge its presence at processing centers here and at the Eglin base. However, maps of two refugee processing areas list CIA work areas.

CIA representatives have also been paged over the Eglin public address system.