Old Time Radio Espionage: German Spies in Mexico!

It is extremely serious business when a nation employs spies in order to gather secrets. Even more important than gathering secrets from other nations is protecting the nation's own secrets. In many ways, counterintelligence is the business of spying on spies. As such, it is the most intriguing and dangerous part of the espionage world.

During the Second World War, the services each had their own intelligence service. The Office of Strategic Services was created to coordinate intelligence operations behind enemy lines. All of them went after spies working against the Allies in the various theaters of the war, while domestic counterintelligence came under the jurisdiction of the FBI.

While looking for a wartime counterpart to Gangbusters, writer/producer Phillips H. Lord took on the inky world of Counter Intelligence with David Harding, Counterspy. The United States Counterspies were a fictional agency of the Federal Government which combined the roles of the FBI and the OSS. The Counterspies were lead by the no nonsense David Harding, played by Donald McLaughlin.

The two Counterspy episodes we have for today's consideration have in common Mexico for a back drop. In the first, "Germans in Mexico", originally broadcast on Jul 27, 1942, the Counterspies know that enemy agents at entering the country over the border with Mexico. They determine that an important route involves airplanes leaving a hidden ranch in Mexico and following secret beacon at night toward a ranch in Texas. There the agents will hole up for a few days before proceeding on their missions in the US. As one Gestapo agent prepares to make the flight, a Mexican official shows up at the ranch. The German agent decides to invite the official on the flight so that he can be murdered and the body dumped on American soil, straining the relations between the US and Mexico. The Gestapo agent fails to realize that the Mexican is in fact a Counterspy in disguise. When the German reaches America he soon discovers that David Harding is one step ahead of him.

The "Mexican Rancho" episode, broadcast on Feb 22, 1949, is decidedly a Cold War radio story. A Counterspy Agent is tracking a trio of spies on a mountain trail in Mexico, when he sees the lady spy and her henchman murder the third member of their party. The spies are on the trial because it overlooks a Rancho that supposedly sits on a large uranium deposit. The Counterspy Agent reports to Harding. The Agent poses as the playboy owner of the uranium mine. The lady spy gets hired as his secretary so that she can get a look at the ranch/uranium mines papers. The agent announces that he is no longer interested in uranium mining, and will sell the rancho at auction. Obviously the only people who will show up at the auction are foreign agents interested in getting at the uranium practically under the nose of the US. It turns out that the auction is a trap. David Harding and the Counterspies haul off all of the spies, except for the two murderers, who they turn over to the Federales.