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Ethan Stanhope is a former CIA agent who betrayed his country for a massive payday provided by the Russian Mafia.
During his time in the CIA, he was part of a joint CIA-DEA op to stop the Russian Mafia from arranging an oil deal which would give them control of Russian oil shipments towards Europe. His Russian contact for the op was Arkady Kolcheck and his two DEA agents working with him were G. Callen and Ricky Taylor.
Ethan betrayed the op before it even got off the ground and created an alter-ego of himself named John Cole to run the oil business while knowing that it would throw any suspicion of him.
Ten years later, on May 5th 2009, he faked his own death and arranged for Callen, Taylor, and Arkady to be killed. Taylor died but Callen and Arkady survived but was led to believe Callen was dead.
He later tried to have Arkady killed again but like the last time the assassination attempt, it was a failure. He later noticed that a Russian girl was surveilling him and had his number two, Max Tyrus kill the girl.
Callen and the Office of Special Projects started to investigate her death and they discovered everything. Soon, it was revealed that Stanhope was the traitor and that he had faked his death so that the CIA wouldn't find him or draw a connection to him.
In the gunfight that ensured which pitted Callen and Stanhope against each other, Stanhope attempted to kill Callen but Callen who had back-up in the form of Sam Hanna and Kensi Blye got the better of Stanhope. Sam successfully arrested Stanhope while Kensi delivered a fatal shot to Tyrus, killing him instantly which finally ended the whole saga once and for all.
Stanhope is a ruthless traitor, essentially betraying his country for the sake of money. He also goes to great lengths to make sure he stays anonymous by hiring his own bodyguard and a group of hitmen to kill those who could expose him.
The following were targeted by Ethan's henchmen
- The May 5th drive-bys (two fatalities):
- Alina Rostoff- (shot once in the head with a gun with a silencer).
- Sam Hanna- (attempted).
- Kensi Blye- (attempted).
- Although he only appeared once, Stanhope's actions ran the course of the first half of Season 1 and the NCIS/NCIS LA crossover.