1977 – Andrew ‘The Snowman’ Lee is arrested

Andrew Lee was an average enough twenty-five year old Californian male of the mid-Seventies, except for two things: his drug use had crossed the line into dealing (chiefly cocaine, but later heroin) and his best friend, Christopher Boyce, was engaged in espionage against the United States. Boyce was an employee of a defence contractor who was horrified by the information he saw regarding the CIA’s dealings in other nations (some of them allies of the USA). When he decided to sell this information to the Soviets or Chinese, he reached out to Lee, recruiting him as a courier and intermediary in 1976.

Unfortunately, coke-addicted drug dealers often come to the attention of the authorities: after several successful trips, Lee was arrested outside the Soviet consulate in Mexico City on suspicion of having murdered a cop there. While he was not guilty of the murder, he confessed to the spying when tortured by the Mexicans, and was extradited back the USA, where he and Boyce were charged with espionage and quickly convicted. Lee’s sentence was a life one (Boyce was sentenced to only 40 years imprisonment – the disparity is most likely due to Lee’s drug dealing), and as of this writing, he remains in the United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.

Referenced in:
This Is Not America — David Bowie and the Pat Methany Group