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Richard Cain and Mexico City


John Simkin
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In 1960 Sam Giancana recruited Robert Cain to assassinate Fidel Castro. He was fluent in Spanish and had worked in Cuba in the 1950s. Michael J. Cain argues that his brother saw it as a golden opportunity as "it had all the elements of an activity that could hold his interest: it was dangerous, it involved espionage, and it was potentially lucrative."

During this period Cain met Tony Varona, the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, an organisation that had been established with help from the CIA. According to Michael J. Cain Varona had originally approached Meyer Lansky to solicit funds for weapons and training. Lansky suggested that Varona should make contact with Sam Giancana "where he found comfort, solace and a quarter of million dollars."

In October 1960 Cain was in Miami interviewing Cuban refugees and preparing reports he shared with CIA station chief William Lohmann back in Chicago. Cain had been introduced to Lohmann by Paul Newey. Lohmann passed this information to the Cuba desk at CIA Headquarters. Cain also told Lohmann that he was on a assignment for Life Magazine and that he expected to be making several trips inside Cuba. In one report Cain told the CIA that: "The Cuban Rebel Air Force of san Antonio de los Banos is now comprised exclusively of Czech (or Russian masquerading as Czech) pilots."

In December 1960 Cain contacted his father to wish him well for the Christmas holidays. According to Mary Ellyn, John Cain's daughter, who overheard the conversation on an extension phone, Richard told his father that he had been to Cuba on a secret mission for the government to assassinate Fidel Castro and that, while he had not succeeded, he had got as far as entering Castro's office, but was unable to find a way to use the botulin tablets. While leaving the grounds his female colleague in the assassination attempt was captured. Cain claimed that she was later executed.

The FBI observed Cain attending a meeting of the Freedom of the Press Committee in Chicago on 28th January, 1961. This was a known communist front organization and it has been suggested that he was on a spying mission for Tony Varona who had "been disillusioned by Castro's turn toward communism."

In July 1961, Cain moved to Mexico City to set up a base of operations for an investigative agency. His first customer was Sears-Roebuck who used his expertise in conducting investigations. During this period he was in regular contact with Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard B. Ogilvie.

Cain also did work for Pierre Kroupensky, a public relations expert. In September 1961 Kroupensky sent him to infiltrate local communist organizations in and around Panama City. On his return to Mexico he became friendly with the head of police in Mexico City. In a letter to his mother, Cain claims that he had been appointed as "technical advisor to the Policia Judicial del Procuradoria". He added that he was only working "on cases involving Americans".

Later in the letter he told his mother he was "doing the same old thing for the Cubanos here". According to his half-brother Michael J. Cain, this meant he was "training Cuban expats in the use of weapons for what they all believed would be the second invasion of Cuba". It is assumed that this training was taking place on behalf of Tony Varona and the Cuban Revolutionary Council.

In a letter sent to his mother in May 1962 Cain was "working steadily with his teaching and private polygraph work, investigations, and wiretaps." The following month Cain was arrested and "charged with carrying a loaded revolver, possession of brass knuckes, possessing Mexican treasury department credentials and violating his visa by working as a private investigator and for the Mexican government." According to the FBI Cain had also been working on tapping the phones at the Czechoslovakian embassy.

Cain was deported from Mexico. On his arrival in the United States he made his way to Houston where he found work administrating polygraph tests and training company personnel in how to use these machines. In September, 1962, he returned to Chicago. On his first day back in the city he had lunch with Sam Giancana and dinner with Richard B. Ogilvie.

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