EXCLUSIVE: Boating couple arrested, charged as secret agents for Cuba

Posted on

Walter Kendall Myers and Gwen Myers were preparing to sail their 37-foot sloop in a 10-day cruising rally around Chesapeake Bay when FBI agents arrested them last week on charges of having spied for the Cuban government for 30 years.

A neighbor at Hartge Yacht Yard in Galesville echoed the sentiments of others that knew the congenial boating couple, saying, “I felt they had arrested Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.”

The arrests happened June 4 at a Washington, D.C., hotel. By the weekend, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro had weighed in, questioning why the United States had waited so long to make the arrests. Noting that the federal indictment alleged that the couple had spied for idealistic reasons and not for money, Castro said, “People like that deserve every honor in this world. … I can’t help but admire their disinterested and courageous conduct on behalf of Cuba.”

To colleagues and fellow boaters, the husband and wife were gracious and intelligent conversationalists. To the Cubans, Walter, 72, was known as Agent 202; while Gwen, 71, was Agent 123.

As investigators worked to uncover the extent of secrets passed to Havana, the FBI sent other agents to Galesville, Md., to search Helene, the Myers’ 2006 Malö 37 Classic. Their marina neighbors reported seeing men with bolt cutters and “strange bulges under their shirts” going aboard Helene.

Michael Locatell of Discovery Yachts in Seattle, the importer who sold the Myerses their Malö 37, said he had not heard from the FBI, and he had not made the connection between news accounts of Cuban spies and two people he described as “wonderful to work with.”

“I am flabbergasted because I have a totally close, more than a normal, business relationship with them,” Locatell said. “We had many dinners together and shared a lot of conversations about his background and what he did. And I just find this to be flabbergasting. I had political conversations with them and he shared his views with me. … He never ever said anything derogatory about U.S. policy toward Cuba, never, not once.”

According to arrest records, Walter Kendall Myers began spying for Cuba in the late 1970s, having been recruited from academia by a Cuban talent scout. Myers had served as a communications specialist in the U.S. Army Security Agency in the 1950s. He earned a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. He went on to perform contract work for the State Department and was an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins.

According to the FBI, Myers was recruited by Cuban intelligence in the late 1970s and tasked with getting a full-time job at either the CIA or State Department. For the next 30 years, he and his wife passed secrets to Cuban operatives using tradecraft techniques right out of spy literature. The Cuban government would instruct him on what information it sought via coded messages that Myers received over a shortwave radio set. Using his top-secret clearance at State, he would then research the topic, and he or his wife would deliver the information by swapping supermarket shopping carts with their Cuban handlers and other covert techniques.

Myers retired from State in 2007, apparently under a cloud of suspicion. But it was not until April 15, 2009, that the FBI initiated an undercover operation that would lead to the Myerses’ arrest. An FBI agent made contact with the couple, pretending to be a Cuban intelligence operative. The couple opened up to their new contact during three face-to-face meetings and made the incriminating admissions that led to their arrests, according to the FBI.

The couple recounted to the undercover FBI agent how they had spent an entire evening with Fidel Castro during a surreptitious visit to Havana in 1995. They also talked about how Helene would facilitate their escape from the United States if need be. Here’s how the FBI described those exchanges in a sworn statement to a federal judge:

“In responding to a question regarding how they might escape ‘from the States,’ Kendall Myers stated that they did not need false travel documents to cross the border because ‘we’re sailing there.’

“Gwendolyn added, ‘We’ve always said we’ll just come on a boat. … We’ll, then we have our place to live [on the sailboat]. Nobody has to put us up.”

Locatell said the Myerses paid about $350,000 for their Malö, having entered into the deal after a visit to the factory in Sweden.

The couple faces up to 35 years in prison for espionage but also because Kendall Myers allegedly defrauded the U.S. government whenever he took his State Department salary. According to court papers, the Feds plan to seize “any and all interest that [the Myerses] have in property derived from proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from a wire fraud scheme.”

Click here for the affidavit and here for the indictment.

— Peter Swanson

Welcome to TradeOnlyToday’s premium content! To continue reading, please register now, for access to 10 free stories per month. Or subscribe, for unlimited access to all TradeOnlyToday content!

Click here to Register ... it's free!

Basic subscription: Registered members get free access to 10 premium content stories each month!

Not a member yet? Click here to Register!

Already a member? Click here to Login!

Subscribe ... for unlimited access!

Individual subscription: $29 for unlimited site access for one year.

Small Business subscription: $140 for unlimited site access for up to 10 members of a company for one year.

Corporate subscription: $300 for unlimited site access for all members of a company for one year.

You may close this dialog after seconds.

Comments

9 comments on “EXCLUSIVE: Boating couple arrested, charged as secret agents for Cuba

  1. pilothouseking

    Considering that Cuba can pick up Miami TV & Radio Stations and watch our news which spills the beans on everything before it happens -anyway, and 1/2 of Cuba now lives in Miami and Castro’s NEPHEWS are Congressmen (Diaz-Ballart brothers!!) – there’s really NO secrets happening here that the Cuban government didn’t already know about.  before it happens.. Remember the Bay of Pigs?  Cuba was just sitting and wating.. Whatever information this couple could have given Cuba sure hasn’t helped Cuba in any economic way -judging by what a craphole country it is- where is the damage? 
    Every other country in the world freely trades with Cuba and has “forever”-so anything Cuba needed they could easily learn from Japan, Germany, Canada, Brazil, and China. 
    Knowing the US goverment they probably DID arrest “Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny” while Bin Laden and REAL terrorists are operating at will.

  2. Tara

    They deserve everything that is coming to them, and should be punished to the full extent of the law for their insolent behavior.  They should be ashamed for participating in these hostile acts against their own country for so many years.  If they are so opposed to the policies of the US, then why didnt they leave?  It is outrageous how so many people live here in the United States with their cushy little lives and find it so easy to sit there and complain, criticize and condemn the US in relation to other countries, however, they remain living here because of all of their freedoms and quality of life….completely hypocritical. 

  3. deb

    I guess I would like to know if they were under a “cloud of suspicion” what took our government so long to react?  and if the FBi was so-o-o concerned, why now?  They were more than likely used by our government equally as much as Cuba’s so while I do not advocate treason regardless of motivation, our government needs to stop this much sooner and either keep it under wraps when they finally inititate actions or quit publicizing it so others desire to enter the same lifestyle…how it this productive at all?  What can be gained now?  We feed them and support them more in the prison system…deport them and let them workover there!!

  4. TFranquiz

    My family escaped communism in Cuba back in 1968, needless to say we lost everything to the communists and had to start over again here in the U.S. I was only 2 years old at the time so I do not know firsthand  of the atrocities that were commited there. I have never looked back and when people ask my if I ever want to visit I can only say ” hell no!” I love the U.S. and these people deserve everything the government throws at them. If the roles were reversed and these were American spies caught in Cuba, they would have been tortured and then locked away in a hole somewhere in Cuba. I worked for an older Cuban in Miami years ago and he would say how sometimes a neighbor or an aquaintance would go missing. They would ask where has so and so been? The answer was always the same, “somewhere in Cuba”.

  5. Tom

    Why not just send them to Cuba with the clothes they are wearing? That would save us taxpayers court costs and jail costs. Auction off the boat and other assets to help with the national debt. If they return, then go ahead and arrest them and hold the trial.

  6. LARRY

    DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY DOUBT?
    CASTRO A CRAZY CUBAN BY ANY STANDARDS, HAS AND IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE DEMISE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM.
    THE FACT THAT A SMALL COUNTRY UNDER 100 MILES AWAY WAY BACK IN 1959 CHALLENGED THE GREATEST & STRONGEST COUNTRY ON EARTH, AND GOT AWAY WITH IT, WAS A KICK IN THE FACE WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO LIVE DOWN. IF ANYONE SAW THE “MOUSE THAT ROARS”, WELL WHAT CAN I TELL YOU? DON’T YOU THINK THE WORLD WAS WATCHING BACK THEN? THAT PERCEPTION OF WHAT THIS COUNTRY STOOD FOR, WENT TO HELL!
    LOOK AT TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA, YOU HAVE VENEZUELA, BOLIVIA, NICARAGUA, SAN SALVADOR, ECUADOR, AND GUATEMALA WITH PRO CASTRO & FILO-COMUNIST REGIMES, WHERE ANTI-AMERICAN PROPAGANDA IS A DAILY BRAIN WASHING ROUTINE, AND THE SENTIMENT IS SPREADING THROUGHOUT OTHER COUNTRIES IN THIS HEMISPHERE.
    THERE ARE GUERRILLAS IN COLOMBIA & MEXICO, WHERE CRIME IS RAMPART, AS WELL AS THE ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT, BOTTOM LINE ……THEY TRIPLE HATE US!!! SURE WITH OUT OUR MASSIVE DRUG COMSUMPTION THEY WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO SURVIVE, AND THAT OUR POLITICIANS ARE SOME WHAT PARTLY RESPONSBILE FOR SOME OF IT, IS UNDENIABLE. BUT YOU CAN BET THAT IT IS CLEAR TO ANYONE WITH JUST A LITTLE GREY MATTER, WAY PAST OVER 60, AND THAT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE, (Ok I gave away my age), TO HAVE HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF HAVING THERE WHEN WE WERE ALL NAIVE AND DIDN’T TAKE CASTRO AND HIS SMALL COUNTRY, SERIOUSLY.
    I STILL BELIEVE CASTRO (with the help of the Russians) WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR KENNEDY’S ASSASSINATION, BUT IT WAS SO WELL DONE, WITH AMERICANS, (just like these guys have gotten away with it, beause after all they’re born & bred USA!),
    IT TODAYS’ WORLD WITH AS MANY ENEMIES HERE AND ABROAD, WELL IT IS TIME FOR ME TO GET OFF THE SOAP BOX, AND YES THESE GUYS SHOULD FRY!

  7. Doran Cushing

    We, of course, know that our U.S. government would never LIE to us about anything, particularly about Cuba, Iran, Iraq, or any of the other evil empires so deemed by the inventors of war and a failed economy. So if you believe these two elderly folks are/were a threat to U.S. security, I guess they’ll have to be sent out of the U.S. since our prisons are not secure enough according to most elected officials. As Pogo said long ago, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

  8. Augusto Villalon

    During WW II the government of Cuba caught a german spy doing what spies do, he was tried and executed, being the only execution of those days.
    Years later I had to run away from the communist government of Fidel, and found the greatest country in the world. (some of the “commenters” above do not thin like we do).
    Now is the time to test the law–spies are executed. I hope that is what they will do with this good-for-nothing-couple. And by the way, check on that Doran Cushing above, he may be on the list

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.

Vote Today

What is the best outcome for the marine industry in the November mid-term elections?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Search Boats for Sale

Length
Year
Price

Login to Trade Only Today

Lost Password