In 1977, a document surfaced which was investigated by the House Select Committee on Assassinations; in addition it triggered decades of speculation in regard to a French connection in the assassination of President Kennedy. The document itself was a March, 1964 request to the FBI from French security – a request that the FBI provide information as to the suspected expulsion of a suspected OAS terrorist, Jean Souetre, from Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. The request noted that Souetre might have been expelled to either Mexico or Canada.
The French request, generated though the legal staff of the American embassy in Paris (a position staffed though the FBI), provided no specific source or explanation as to why French security believed that Jean Souetre had been in the United States, or specifically in Dallas. The apparent reason for their interest was the planned visit by French President Charles de Gaulle to Mexico and Souetre had been charged with planning at least one attack on the French president. The document also revealed that French security had associated multiple names with the inquiry, including Michael Roux and Michael Hertz (possibly a misspelling of Michael Mertz?).
For reference, it should be noted that Michael “Mertz” was known to the FBI and had been traveling into the United States from Canada. Mertz had earlier worked for French security, had conducted intelligence operations against the OAS (including against Souetre). However he had also become associated with a major drug smuggling effort bringing cocaine from France into the United States through Canada. For those interested in the Mertz connection, The Heroin Trail (Newsday) researched and describes the network created by Dominic and Jean Venturi and provides details on their associate, Michael Mertz. Mertz had been previously been involved in counter intelligence activities against the OAS and following his penetration of a bombing attempt against President de Gaulle in 1962, he and his family had been moved to Montreal for protection. From that location he helped grow and diversify cocaine networks running into the United States.
Based on the French security request of 1964 – an inquiry which led to an in depth FBI investigation at the time – assassination researchers began to pursue the possible involvement of Souetre and the OAS in the Kennedy assassination. As a consequence, the Souetre story would become a staple in assassination research and writings.
However, with the release of actual documents related to the FBI’s own 1964 investigation, the matter is actually becomes much less mysterious. What we can now see is that the Dallas FBI SAC (special agent in charge) provided a lengthy response to the FBI Director in regard to an in depth inquiry on Jean Souetre, to related names that has come up in the inquiry and the details of a Frenchman using the true name provided in the French inquiry (Michael Roux). The FBI determined that Micahel Roux was in fact Texas during the period in question and had departed by ground transport to Mexico via Loredo – although not on November 22. That FBI summary report is now available online at the Mary Ferrell Foundation:
The FBI report relates that in March 1977, a foreign reporter (British Citizen) working for National Inquirer had contacted the FBI in regard to their investigation of Jean Souetre alias Michel Roux, alias Michael Hertz who had supposedly been in Dallas on the day of the JFK assassination. The reporter, David Duffy, stated that Souetre was a French army captain who was a member of the OAS and a terrorist was reportedly deported to Mexico or Canada shortly after the assassination.
As reference Duffy cited a document reportedly gained via FOIA (agency unknown) by the National Inquirer and given to him as a research and writing assignment. The document was dated 1, April, 1964 and stated that on March 5,  the US Legal Attaché (FBI officer) at the Paris Embassy had relayed a query to FBI office in New York as to a report that Michael Roux aka Michel _ertz [first letter illegible] had been in Fort Worth and Dallas Texas on November 22 and had been expelled to either Mexico or Canada on that date.
The French query stated that in January, 1963 an individual named Micael Roux had received a written communication from an American dentist living in had Houston Texas – the French security concern was that Roux was a alias being used by Jean Souetre, a suspected OAS terrorist and that his presence in the United States (and possibly Mexico) was a concern in regard to a planned visit by Charles De Gaulle to Mexico. FBI Dallas had initially advised the National Inquirer reporter that it had no files on Jean Souetre or any expulsion from Dallas but that it would query IRS [apparently a typo for INS].
The full FBI summary report includes a Dallas inquiry summary of March, 11, 1964 stating that a background check had been done on Michel Roux and that he had indeed visited a family in Fort Worth, Texas on November 22-23, ultimately departing Texas to Mexico via the border crossing at Laredo, Texas. That had been communicated to the Embassy Legat in Paris who had advised French security of the details and the identification of Michael Roux. With that information French security had actually located Roux in Paris and determined that he was indeed not Jean Souetre. The Dallas office and the FBI had closed their inquiry after being so advised by the Legat in Paris.
Another document in the FBI summary file – a memo from the Director to the Legat in Paris – provided details on the family in Fort Worth (Leon Gachman) who had revived Roux as a guest. The report noted that Gachman and his family had been in Paris in October, 1962 and met Roux, a hotel clerk. Roux had served in the French Army, been stationed in Algeria and was interested in emigrating to the U.S. and opening a restaurant. Gachman had invited Roux to visit and in November, 1963 Roux had traveled to the United States and visited both Houston and Forth Worth in Texas.
He had been with the Gachmans in Fort Worth on November 21-23. Gachman had used his business connections to arrange a job for Roux in a Mexican Hotel. The plan was that he would have worked in Mexico while filing papers to obtain a U.S. visa – apparently some element of the plan did not work out as Roux had returned to Paris at a later date. The FBI document relates that Roux had entered the U.S. via New York on November 19, 1963 and departed for Mexico via Laredo on December 6, 1963; the FBI had concluded Roux was indeed not Jean Souetre.
As part of the FBI inquiry into the Roux affair, the Bureau had also located an individual (Lawrence Alderson) in Houston who had indeed exchanged letters with Jean Soutre. Alderson had become friends with Soietre while stationed in France in 1953. When contacted by the FBI in 1964, Alderson related that he had received no communications from Souetre (including no Christmas Cards) in over a year and that he had not been personally visited by Souerte. Apparently Alderson had been identified though the tracing of a letter/card which he had sent to Souetre from Alderson in Texas. The letter from Alderson to Souetre may indeed have been the original trigger for the inquiry from French security (IS France) in regard to Souetre being in Texas.
The FBI investigative file also includes a message of March 13, 1962 stating that French Security had based in the information provided by the FBI, that any further investigation should be discontinued. Beyond that the summary file contains information relayed to the FBI during the inquiry. One CIA memo, of March 9, 1964 relates that the true Jean Souetre had been known to the Agency during the summer of 1963. It notes that the CIA, on July 12, 1963 had advised the FBI (and apparently the State Department as well) of that contact in a letter headed “OAS Attempt to Enlist the Cooperation of the United States for its anti-deGaulle Activities”. Along with that letter the CIA had furnished a photo of Souetre and a copy of a June 25, CIA report relating to alleged OAS approach relating to the ousting of DeGaulle.
The CIA established a Souetre file based on a foreign contact by Souetre and a Captain Guerin in July, 1963. It appears that the approach was made via the American Embassy in Spain. A CIA file also noted that as of June that year Souetre had been representing himself in Portugal as the “external affairs”. The CIA document index shows reflects no other information for 1963. The HSCA inquiry turned up no additional records which would have supported the idea that Souetre did travel to the United States in 1963.
It does need to be noted that JFK assassination researchers such as Bud Fensterwald continued to pursue the possible French connection, locating French sources who fueled the mystery with anecdotal reports of a visit by Souetre to Cuban exile training camps near New Orleans in 1963 and even the idea that OAS members were serving as trainers in those same camps. Unfortunately Fensterwald provided no credentials nor background on his sources nor any explanation as to why they would have had such information on Souerte or the OAS.
Ultimately the National Inquirer did field its article on the subject, several years later, in 1983. At the time Souetre was working as a casino public relations manager in France, near the Swiss border. Souetre admitted to having been accused of an attack against de Gaulle but denied ever having even traveled to the United States.
Given that the Souetre connection seems likely to live on forever, in 1999 Souetre was interviewed once again – still working in the same public relations job at the same casino. In an extended interview he reaffirmed that he had not been in Dallas, while taking the opportunity to point suspicions towards his personal nemesis Michael Mertz – one of the French security officers who had effectively penetrated the OAS. In that interview, over thirty years after the fact he endorsed the speculation that Mertz had been in Dallas, had been recruited into a conspiracy against President Kennedy and that Mertz had simply used Souetre’s name as an alias.
Triangle of Death, Bradley O’Leary, Chapter 21, “Souetre Speaks”
Clearly the story of Souetre in Dallas on November 22, 1963 is simply too good a story to ever fade away – in spite of the details available in for the rather dry and factual FBI inquiry of 1964 which had put the matter to rest for French security.
Addendum: For clarification I should add that Souetre’s full name was Jean-Rene Souetre.. Also in regard to Mertz, the attack which he helped foil was carried out in July, 1961, at Point-sur-Seine: