On This Day — CIA Aldrich Ames Arrested by FBI in Arlington, Virginia (February 21, 1994) [2021]

“I knew quite well, when I gave the names of our agents in the Soviet Union, that I was exposing them to the full machinery of counter-espionage and the law, and then prosecution and capital punishment.”

Former CIA Aldrich Hazen Ames

Aldrich Ames is arrested outside his home in Virginia

February 21 2021 — On February 21 1994, CIA officer Aldrich Hazen Ames was arrested by the FBI in Arlington, Virginia on espionage charges. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

RELATED POST: On This Day — FBI Robert Hanssen Is Arrested (February 18 2001)

RELATED POST: Sexpionage — Markus Wolf & His Romeo Spies

RELATED POST: India — “Honey -Trapped” IAF Officer Arrested For Spying

RELATED POST: Russia and Estonia Swap Spies [Video]

RELATED POST: Portuguese Secret Service Official Sentenced For Spying For Russia

RELATED POST: Norway — Former Border Inspector Behind Bars in Moscow on Charges of Espionage

“Espionage, for the most part, involves finding a person who knows something or has something that you can induce them secretly to give to you. That almost always involves a betrayal of trust.” Aldrich Hazen Ames

UPDATE (February 21 2020) — When you look back at this case, it is hard not to ask a simple question: What took them so long so find out Aldrich Ames?

When Ames was arrested (see picture above), he was driving a brain-new Jaguar XJ-6, a car he could hardly afford on his CIA salary.

Last December, NPR ran a good story “Can A Computer Catch A Spy?” which re-tells many episodes of the CIA investigation. A detail about his wife, Rosario, speaks volumes.

Rosario had asked a CIA colleague to send her prenatal vitamins when she and Ames were posted in Rome back in 1988.

When Grimes ran into the helpful colleague who had sent the vitamins months later, she was wearing a beautiful Gucci scarf.

“Where did you get that?” Grimes asked her.

The colleague said Ames’ wife had sent it to her after receiving the vitamins.

“I said, ‘Well, that’s quite a gift.'”

In this short video,  Sandy Grimes, a former CIA Operative in the Agency’s Clandestine Service, and her fellow operative Jeanne Vertefeuille discuss the capture and conviction of Aldrich Hazen Ames.


“There are so many things a large intelligence espionage organization can do to justify its existence, that people can get promotions for, because it could result in results.” — Aldrich Hazen Ames

At the time of his arrest, Ames was a 31-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who had been spying for the Russians since 1985. Arrested with him was his wife, Rosario Ames, who had aided and abetted his espionage activities.

Following guilty pleas by both Ames and his wife on April 28, 1994, Ames was sentenced to incarceration for life without the possibility of parole. Rosario Ames was sentenced on October 20, 1994 to 63 months in prison.

Ames was a CIA case officer, who spoke Russian and specialized in the Russian intelligence services, including the KGB, the USSR’s foreign intelligence service. His initial overseas assignment was in Ankara, Turkey, where he targeted Russian intelligence officers for recruitment. Later, he worked in New York City and Mexico City, Mexico.

On April 16, 1985, while assigned to the CIA’s Soviet/ East European Division at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, he secretly volunteered to KGB officers at the USSR Embassy, Washington, D.C. Shortly thereafter, the KGB paid him $50,000. During the summer of 1985, Ames met several times with a Russian diplomat to whom he passed classified information about CIA and FBI human sources, as well as technical operations targeting the Soviet Union. In December 1985, Ames met with a Moscow-based KGB officer in Bogotá, Colombia. In July 1986, Ames was transferred to Rome, Italy.

In Rome, Ames continued his meetings with the KGB, including a Russian diplomat assigned in Rome and a Moscow-based KGB officer. At the conclusion of his assignment in Rome, Ames received instructions from the KGB regarding clandestine contacts in the Washington, D.C. area, where he would next be assigned. In addition, the KGB wrote to Ames that he had been paid $1.88 million by them in the four years since he volunteered.

Upon his return to Washington, D.C. in 1989, Ames continued to pass classified documents to the KGB, using “dead drops” or prearranged hiding places where he would leave the documents to be picked up later by KGB officers from the USSR Embassy in Washington. In return, the KGB left money and instructions for Ames, usually in other “dead drops.”

In the meantime, the CIA and FBI learned that Russian officials who had been recruited by them were being arrested and executed. These human sources had provided critical intelligence information about the USSR, which was used by U.S. policy makers in determining U.S. foreign policy. Following analytical reviews and receipt of information about Ames’s unexplained wealth, the FBI opened an investigation in May 1993.

FBI special agents and investigative specialists conducted intensive physical and electronic surveillance of Ames during a 10-month investigation. Searches of Ames’s residence revealed documents and other information linking Ames to the Russian foreign intelligence service.

FBI agents found this note in Ames’ trash in 1993; it refers to a meeting with his KGB contact in Bogotá, Colombia.

On October 13, 1993, investigative specialists observed a chalk mark Ames made on a mailbox confirming to the Russians his intention to meet them in Bogotá, Colombia. On November 1, special agents observed him and, separately, his Russian handler in Bogotá. When Ames planned foreign travel, including a trip to Moscow, as part of his official duties, a plan to arrest him was approved.

Following their arrest and guilty pleas, Ames was debriefed by FBI agents, at which time he detailed compromising the identities of CIA and FBI human sources, some of whom were executed by USSR authorities. Pursuant to his plea agreement, he forfeited his assets to the United States, and $547,000 was turned over to the Justice Department’s Victims Assistance Fund. Ames is serving his sentence in the federal prison system. Rosario Ames completed her sentence and was released.

An Intelligence Disaster : How could it have taken so long?


History —  Famous Cases : Aldrich Ames — FBI Website


This Day in History — CIA Aldrich Ames Arrested by FBI in Arlington, Virginia (February 21, 1994)

On This Day — CIA Aldrich Ames Arrested by FBI in Arlington, Virginia (February 21, 1994)

On This Day — CIA Aldrich Ames Arrested by FBI in Arlington, Virginia (February 21, 1994) [2020]

On This Day — CIA Aldrich Ames Arrested by FBI in Arlington, Virginia (February 21, 1994) [2021]

This entry was posted in CIA, FBI, This Day in History, Treason and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s