National News

10 Russian secret agents arrested in U.S.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Following a multi-year investigation, ten people were arrested for allegedly serving as illegal agents of the Russian government in the United States, the Department of Justice said Monday.

Eight of the 10 were charged with allegedly carrying out "long term, deep cover" assignments for Russia. The other two were charged for allegedly participating in the same Russian intelligence program as the rest of the group.

All ten were charged with conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States. Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments in the U.S. without notifying the U.S. attorney general. This conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison if convicted.

Nine of the defendants were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.

This group of Russian operatives received their directions from Russian's military intelligence division known as the SVR. The arrested individuals allegedly used a series of Cold War tactics like encrypted radio bursts and even buried money in upstate New York.

According to the criminal complaint, the group sought to recruit individuals as "sources who can infiltrate United States policy making circles."

The complaint alleges that members of the group sought to establish ties with congressional aides and scientists who worked on nuclear weapons development.

One member of this spy ring remains at large. The defendant known as "Christopher R. Metsos" is a trained SVR agent and lives outside of the U.S. Metsos is reportedly one of the main facilitators of the group.

FBI agents arrested the defendants known as "Richard Murphy" and "Cynthia Murphy" at their Montclair, N.J. home Sunday. They are scheduled to appear Monday in federal court in Manhattan.

Three other defendants are also being taken to federal court in Manhattan - Vicky Pelaez and a defendant known as "Juan Lazaro," who were arrested at their Yonkers, N.Y. home and Anna Chapman, who was arrested in Manhattan on Sunday.

Defendants known as "Michael Zottoli" and "Patricia Mills" were arrested Sunday at their residence in Arlington, Va., and were scheduled to be in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Monday. Also, defendant Mikhail Semenko was arrested Sunday at his Arlington residence and also was scheduled to be in federal court in Alexandria Monday.

Defendants known as "Donald Howard Heathfield" and "Tracey Lee Ann Foley" were arrested at their Boston home Sunday and were scheduled to be in federal court Monday in Boston.

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