Monkey Morales redacted

Redacted JFK Files Show Ricardo ‘Monkey’ Morales Was a Trusted CIA Operative and FBI Informant

Ricardo Morales, the Miami man who told his son he met accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in a CIA training camp, was considered a credible source by the Agency and FBI. His heavily-redacted 130-page CIA personnel file, is found among the JFK assassination records whose release was postponed by the White House on October 22.

Monkey Morales Mural
Ricardo Morales, known as “Monkey,” second left, and his “cleanup” crew posing with CIA-provided sniper rifles. The date and the location of the photo are not known. (CORTESIA DE RICARDO MORALES JR.) Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article255356661.html#storylink=cpy

While the details of the story told by his son Ricardo Jr. on a Miami radio station this week have not been corroborated, the declassified portions of CIA files show that Morales (nicknamed Mono, Spanish for monkey) provided reams of information about the personnel and operations of the Cuban intelligence services. Approved for sabotage missions in March 1964 under the code name AMDESK-1, Morales was paid $200 a month. He reported on an infiltration operation run by a group called the Movimiento Democratic Cristiano (MDC) in June 1964 but was never used on any mission by the CIA station in Miami. He was terminated as a CIA agent in September 1964 for a “security violation.”

Morales and Angleton

Morales, however, was immediately re-recruited for another secret mission in Congo run by the Agency’s Special Operations Division (SOD). Within three weeks he was approved for CIA counterintelligence activities, indicating he was known to James Angleton, the Agency’s top counterspy.

The CIA memos about the operation, code named WIPEGASUS, are among the redacted files whose release the White House postponed on October 22. The purpose of the PEGASUS operation is not known. The redacted memos can be found on the web site of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, home of the largest online collection of the government’s JFK assassination records.

A 57-year old redacted CIA memo on Ricardo ‘Monkey’ Morales, dated September 21, 1964. The document is among the JFK files whose release was postponed by the White House and the CIA on October 22. (Credit: Mary Ferrell Foundation)

Morales “performed as a good commando” until he suffered a minor wound, according to a CIA after-action report. HIs CIA handler described him “an intelligent English speaker who should cause no security problems.”

The Miami Herald reported this week that Morales was terminated as a CIA source after the Congo mission. But another redacted memo, released in April 2018, shows the Agency extended approval for Morales’s counterintelligence operations in 1965.

A redacted CIA memo from 1965 about Ricardo Morales, AMDESK-1, who told his son he met accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination of President Kennedy. The document is among the JFK files whose release was postponed by the White House and the CIA on October 22. (Credit: Mary Ferrell Foundation)

Morales and Oswald

In his appearance on Miami’s Actualidad Radio 1040 AM, Ricardo Morales, Jr. recounted his father telling him two stories.

Morales said he was ordered on a CIA mission in Dallas shortly before November 22, 1963, whose purpose was unknown. Morales Sr. did not identify the case officer who allegedly sent him on this mission. The available record shows Morales had a CIA handler, code named “Alexander Ratwick,” but not until 1964.

Morales also told his son that he met Oswald in a CIA training camp. He didn’t tell his son  when or where. There was a training camp near New Orleans where Oswald lived in 1963, that was run by an anti-Castro group called the Movimiento Democratico Cristiano (MDC). Morales is known to have reported on MDC activities in 1964.

When Morales’s anti-Castro compatriots bombed a Polish ship and other communist targets in 1968, his fingerprints were found at one of the bombing scenes. The FBI received testimony that the explosives came from the CIA. Morales then became a witness for U.S. prosecutors. He wore a wire for the FBI while meeting with other Cuban suspects in the case. In a 1972 memo, the chief of the Agency’s Western Hemisphere division said the FBI considered Morales “honest and objective” as an informant.

Morales’s career as terrorist, drug trafficker, and informant grew ever more complex, as detailed in a mind-bending (and paywalled) Harper’s magazine cover story in January 1982. Morales was shot to death in a MIami bar in December 1982.

President Biden gave the CIA and other federal agencies until December 15 to release JFK files with a proviso they can delay sensitive material related to national security, military intelligence and the foreign policy until December 15, 2022.

3 thoughts on “Redacted JFK Files Show Ricardo ‘Monkey’ Morales Was a Trusted CIA Operative and FBI Informant”

  1. Arnaldo M. Fernandez

    Only in Miami such a bullshit story can be published. There is no clue about The Monkey and Oswald crossing paths from June 1962 to November 1963 anywhere. Apart from the fact that The Monkey could train not even himself because of disfunctional behaviour, he was such a gossiping Cuban exile that he would have told his encounter with Oswald not only to his son, but even to Hispanic TV, as he did in December 1981 by revealing himself as one of the culprits of the 1976 Cuban airplane bombing in Barbados.

  2. Whenever one sees photos of groups of Cuban exiles holding weapons, one can’t help wonder whether any were part of the abortive assassination operation planned for Chicago 3 weeks before the assassination itself. You read about a sniper team “including Cuban exiles” equipped with high-powered rifles and wonder whether people like “Monkey” Morales were in the would-be hit team and got shifted to Tampa for Nov. 18, then Dallas Nov. 22.

  3. In the immortal words of Chuck Berry, that’s too much monkey business for me.

    If we could find out what who else was at the camp with Morales, we could verify the story possibly if they’re still alive.

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