The most intimate confessions of El Lobo, Franco's mole who arrested 320 ETA members: “He lived a torture”

Since it was learned that Mikel Lejarza had been an ETA infiltrator in 1975, the ex-spy has given two clandestine interviews to ABC in which he revealed some of the worst moments of his adventure

Threat poster distributed by ETA, by Mikel LegarzaABC


Updated at 3:02 p.m.

“The way of murdering ETA has finished, but the seed remains and it will be very difficult for it to disappear”. Whoever has expressed himself this Tuesday, in a central Madrid hotel, knows what he is talking about. It is Mikel Lejarza , ‘ The wolf‘, a spy recruited by the SECED, the predecessor agency of the CNI and created during the Franco dictatorship, which was infiltrated in the terrorist group until beheading it for the first time. The famous mole appeared in public yesterday for the first time, almost fifty years after leading the largest police operation against the Basque organization.

Lejarza, with a wig, false beard and painted glasses, equipped by several members of security dressed in masks of the flag of Spain, has presented the book written together with the journalist Fernando Rueda: ‘ Confession secrets: 50th anniversary of Operation Wolf’ (Rock). It is the second part of ‘ I confess’ and in it he offers a more intimate and individual portrait of the spy. “You see me with these pints, but I have no other choice,” he warned those present, recalling the odyssey he lived through for decades, in which he was threatened and persecuted by terrorists and their sympathizers.

The ex-spy has been anonymous for more than half his life, since his identity was made public in 1975. In all this time novels have been written and filmed movies about his feat, while he was living he was forced to live in hiding for fear of reprisals. Despite this, he believes that the ‘ Operation Lobo‘ was closed sooner than he would have wanted, as he hoped to have continued to climb the ranks and contribute to the final dissolution of the band after the amnesty of 77 Even so, Thanks to his work, 320 alleged ETA members were arrested.

For some he was a traitor who deserved death. To others, including himself, a hero unrewarded and unrecognized in the intervening half century. “It seems good to me that they make a film of my life. It is a way of recognizing my work, from which others, on the other hand, have obtained so many medals. Because it is incredible that I have more recognition from the Israeli Mossad and the FBI than from Spain “, he complained in 2004


‘ An important ETA command has been dismantled’ , announced ABC on its cover of September 20, 1975 Under the headline, the photograph of nine of the detained terrorists. On the inside pages, other supporting articles such as ‘ The Government reaffirms its position of continue fighting terrorism with all legal means’ and ‘1975: a decisive year against ETA’ But how did El Lobo get there? How much did he have to suffer and what dangers did he run? How did you get nobody to discover it?

Lejarza has explained it to this newspaper in two exclusive and clandestine conversations, since the one he had with us in 1995, in Mexico City, until 2019 in Spain

In the latter he left statements as forceful as this: “It is not fear that keeps me hidden, but even today I must take many precautions. ETA has The Basque Country has been sown with lampoons fooling my photography, trying to put on an image of a traitor, that a seed of rage has been created towards my figure. How can there not be caution, more than before”.

Lejarza was born in Areatza, Vizcaya, and was the son of a baker. From a very young age he moved in the circles of the nationalist left, before moving to Basauri. It was in this other town where he was captured by the Francoist Police. This is how he recounted it in 1995: “It was December 1973. The attack against Carrero Blanco had shocked the Police and the Spanish secret services, who then had very little information about ETA. A relative who worked in the Social Political Brigade told me about the possibility of working against ETA. The SECED course in 1974 was very short. They taught me evasion tactics, systems for sending encrypted messages, but no infiltration techniques. What they did teach me was to have confidence in myself, which is the most important thing for a personality that is going to infiltrate an organization like this”.

Mikel Lejarza, in the center, next to Fernando Rueda EFE

Death up close

The SECED age, the espionage service that Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco had created in October 1972, Lejarza was, therefore, one of its first members, in one of the eras of higher ATS activity. It should not be forgotten that, a year later, the band assassinated the same president of the Franco government on Claudio Coello street in Madrid In September 1974, another bomb caused a massacre in the Rolando cafeteria, very close to the headquarters of the General Directorate of Security in Puerta del Sol. It was there that El Lobo came into action, after a long and difficult effort to approach the organization.

It was so effective that it managed to treat the ETA leaders face to face. For this he used his profession as a decorator as a cover, which allowed him to meet an endless number of architects in half of Spain. According to what he recounted years later, with this job he set up a network of flats that served as a hideout for commandos sent to Madrid and Barcelona to commit attacks. Thus he became a key player within the organization.

“My work soon paid off. Thanks to the information I provided, a suitcase with abundant ETA documentation was intercepted, the first important one that was obtained on the band since its foundation” , revealed to ABC in 1995 However, to maintain his cover he had to put his life in danger on several occasions. In July 1975, for example, while at a meeting of the ETA leadership in Sokoa, France, a bomb exploded in the house. Luckily, it caused no casualties. Lejarza knew that this was going to happen and he had to be cold-blooded to endure the fear with his nerves on the surface.

Interview with Mikel Lejarza, in 1995 ABC

Don Juan de Bourbon

A few days later, his life was again in danger: the Police discovered him when he was in a car with some ETA members along Paseo de la Castellana, which triggered a shootout. The agents were unaware that he was a mole within that dangerous commando and began to shoot. More than a hundred bullets flew in the center of Madrid, which cost the life of one of the terrorists. Once again, he narrowly escaped.

He also experienced first-hand the attempted kidnapping of Don Juan de Borbón: “One day, I meet ‘Smith’ and ‘Chao’, who take me to a flat in Hendaye, where I remain hidden. I find out some things and pass on information to SECED, such as the one that prevented the kidnapping of the Monarch, who was on a boat in Monaco in August 1974.” Lejarza also revealed to this newspaper some of the intimate conversations he had with the terrorists, such as the one in which a colleague told him that he had gouged out the eyes with screwdrivers of three Galicians who were kidnapped, tortured and murdered after being mistaken for police officers.

” In June 1975 we went to Spain and, a month later, thanks to the data I provide, the first major operation was carried out in which 150 personalities were arrested throughout Spain, not only from ETA, also from extreme left organizations such as the FRAP and the UPGA, which were related to ETA,” he went on to say.

The end of the cover

It was in those days when El Lobo began to be aware of that his false identity was raising the first suspicions within ETA: “That was an ordeal. It was like living inside a fish tank in which, at any moment, another fish, bigger and more dangerous, could devour you. He took advantage of any moment, in the afternoon, to take a nap. What happens is that, even today, I can hardly sleep at night”, he admitted.

He then decided to end his adventure: “A One day, Yon and Ezquerra told me that they wanted to talk to me and they took me by car to two banks in the University City of Madrid. There they told me that they had received it, from the hands of Catalan independentistas, that I was an infiltrator. the BBC, commented”. At that moment, Lejarza pretended to be outraged and threatened to leave ETA. He recounted that he even handed them his weapon right there. They believed him. He had been in too many confrontations with the Police for the tip to be true.

Days later, however, both terrorists were arrested. It was his last action, because ETA never heard from Mikel Lejarza again. He disappeared. To say goodbye to the terrorists, he still had the courage to send them a letter telling them the truth. Later, he began a life in hiding that continues today, more than a decade after the gang announced its definitive end to the armed struggle.

“I have dedicated my life to saving others and I have become an outlaw”, he underlined in 1995.


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