Operation Lex Talionis was a black op mission created as a response to the Metropolitan Airport Bombing.
In 1979, a briefcase bomb went off in the departure terminal of the Metropolitan International Airport, resulting in 100 casualties.
This had been considered the most deadly attack on American soil at the time for decades. The case went cold for nearly forty years, long enough for the American public to forget about it. The man responsible was Armand Luna, a Communist guerilla member in Colombia.
At some point later, Luna ended up released from prison after being arrested for his involvement in a Communist insurrection. He then blackmailed Olivia Edmunds with framing a freedom fighter and drug-runner named Tomás Orlando for the bombing with DNA evidence and threatened to murder everyone she cared for, as well as placing a keystroke logger on his laptop allowing her to monitor him for weeks before the operation.
The case was eventually resurfaced in 2013, when an identical bomb to the one used in the 1979 bombing was recovered intact by NCIS agents stationed in Colombia. Gibbs was placed in charge of the operation due to his own prior experience in Colombia, and Agent Anthony DiNozzo was one of the few MCRT members to be kept in the loop about the secret op (although DiNozzo implied that then-NCIS agent Ziva David may have been in the know of the operation).
After finding trace elements of the DNA in the internal components of the bomb, they created a secret op, Lex Talionis, to find and eliminate the bomb maker responsible for the bombing, with Vice Admiral Dawn Tyson classifying the operation.
Navy SEAL Commander Joe Hankos also personally volunteered to lead the SEAL task force with locating the man responsible, due to his being forced to grow up without a father due to his losing his father in the bombing.
About six months before the events of the operation, they eventually narrowed down their subjects to Tomás Orlando, although they weren't able to actually confirm whether he was indeed their bomb maker due to being unable to get in close enough to get a DNA test sample.
Eventually, a Navy Intelligence specialist named Lieutenant Louis Freston was deployed using the alias of Naval Petty Officer Daniel Harvey to make contact with a prostitute in the Metro area named Lolita Cortes and retrieve a DNA sample of Orlando from her purse under the promise of protection for her family, but he as well as Lolita ended up killed by Eddie "Collarbone" Rosario, her pimp, as he was furious at her refusing him, which resulted in complications due to Collarbone stealing her purse beforehand, unaware of its connection to Orlando or the op.
Eventually, after retrieving the purse and doing an analysis, Orlando ended up "confirmed" to be the man responsible, although when conducting the op, it became apparent that Orlando had left the compound just before they arrived, although they did retrieve a damaged laptop with the hard drive still intact. The SEAL task force also attempted to pursue him on the trail, although a firefight from the locals forced them to withdraw. Timothy McGee and Abigail Sciuto were later dispatched to the aircraft carrier that Commander Hankos was directing the SEAL team at to analyze the hard drive.
The mission met an unexpected turn when Tomás Orlando personally arrived at the NCIS compound and requested asylum in the United States, and also admitted that not only was he not responsible for the bombing, he even offered his own hairs for DNA analysis as proof, which Medical Examiners Donald Mallard and James Palmer proceeded to do a DNA analysis with help from Abby's notes on the subject.
The DNA test then confirmed that the bomb maker was not Orlando, with Gibbs revealing this to both Ambassador Edmunds and Commander Hankos. In addition, Ambassador Edmunds ended up exposed by Abby for her involvement in framing Orlando after finding the keystroke logger, with her eventually surrendering to MPs in the parking lot. She then revealed what happened and decided to reveal who the real person behind the bombing was.
Using the information supplied by Edmunds, the Navy proceeded to launch a drone strike against the compound for Luna, by that point a drug lord.
After investigating the compound, they eventually confirmed that Luna had indeed been killed by the drone strike, with Director Vance confirming it to the MCRT unit the next day while the news reported on the attack.
Hankos, returning with McGee and Abby, proceeded to thank Vance for not forgetting about the events and ensuring that all the victims of the attack received the closure they needed.
- The operation's name was Latin, meaning "Law of Retaliation."