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Decades of espionage activities exposed: U.S. Diplomat pleads guilty to acting as an agent on behalf of Cuba, sentenced to 15 years in prison


Florida – Victor Manuel Rocha, a former high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of State, has pleaded guilty to charges of espionage, admitting to decades of covert activities on behalf of the Republic of Cuba.

Decades of espionage activities exposed: U.S. Diplomat pleads guilty to acting as an agent on behalf of Cuba, sentenced to 15 years in prison

A Career of Espionage

Victor Rocha, a diplomat who previously served on the National Security Council and as U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, entered his guilty plea in the U.S. District Court today, facing serious charges related to national security breaches. U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom, presiding over the case, accepted Rocha’s guilty plea on counts of conspiring to act and acting as an agent of a foreign government without notification. Following his plea, Rocha was handed the statutory maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, along with a $500,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

This case marks a significant and severe breach of trust by a government official entrusted with national secrets. Rocha’s responsibilities, which spanned various high-profile positions, including a role at the White House and diplomatic stints in Bolivia and Cuba, provided him with access to sensitive classified information.

According to court documents, Rocha’s clandestine activities began in 1973 and continued unabated until his recent arrest. His guilty plea revealed that his primary motive was to support Cuba’s intelligence missions against the United States, which included collecting and transmitting sensitive U.S. information to Cuban authorities.

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The Plea and Its Conditions

As part of his plea agreement, Rocha is required to cooperate fully with U.S. authorities, including assisting with damage assessments and forfeiting all future retirement benefits tied to his government service. Additionally, any profits from publications related to his espionage activities or government service must be relinquished to the United States.

Rocha’s espionage activities were not limited to his time at the State Department. Even after his official service ended in 2002, he continued to engage in actions that supported Cuban intelligence services. The depth of his betrayal extends to providing false information to the U.S. and traveling internationally to meet with Cuban operatives.

In a series of monitored encounters in 2022 and 2023, Rocha met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban intelligence officer. During these meetings, he openly acknowledged his four decades of espionage for Cuba. He referred to the U.S. as “the enemy” and used inclusive language like “we” when talking about Cuba, indicating his deep allegiance to the foreign power.

Implications and Reactions

The case has raised concerns about the effectiveness of security vetting processes within the U.S. government, especially concerning individuals with access to critical national security information. Rocha’s activities have prompted a reevaluation of how security clearances are granted and maintained, especially for personnel with access to top-level intelligence.

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“Victor Manuel Rocha was sentenced to 15 years in prison today for deceiving our nation. He blatantly violated the oath of office he willingly took as an employee of the State Department and disregarded the loyalty to the United States that is inherent with that oath. As this case demonstrates, the counterintelligence threat facing our nation is real, pervasive, and has the potential to cause great harm to our national security. I want to commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for their close partnership on this highly sensitive matter. I also want to thank our Washington Field Office and our Counterintelligence Division, as well as the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for their valuable contributions to this case,” Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office said.

Rocha’s sentencing not only closes a significant chapter of espionage against the United States but also serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing threats posed by foreign intelligence services.

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