Mexican Citizen Accused of Spying for Russians in the US was arrested in Miami, DOJ says

Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, a Mexican citizen who live in Singapore, was arrested and charged for " acting within the United States on behalf of a foreign government (Russia), without notifying the Attorney General," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

A Russian government official recruited Fuentes in 2019 to rent a specific property in Miami-Dade County, according to court documents. The official told Fuentes not to rent the apartment in Fuentes' own name and not to tell family about their meetings.

Fuentes went to Russia and informed the Russian official about the arrangements, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The official approved and told Fuentes to meet him again on his next trip to Russia.

This month, Fuentes traveled to Moscow again to meet with the official, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. At this meeting, the official gave Fuentes a physical description of a U.S. government source's vehicle, telling Fuentes to find the car, get the license plate's number and note the actual location of the source's car.

The Russian official told Fuentes they will meet again in April or May to inform him about the source's car.

Fuentes traveled to Miami on Feb. 13 from Mexico City, according to court documents. The next day, Fuentes' rental car caught the attention of a security guard where the U.S. government source lived because it got into the premises by tailgating another vehicle to get inside. When the security guard approached his car, Fuentes' travel companion, who lives in Mexico and is legally married to Fuentes, walked out of the car to the U.S. government official's car and took a photo of the source's license plate.

When security asked Fuentes and his companion what they were doing there, Fuentes gave the name of a person who they were allegedly visiting, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Security didn't recognize the person as someone living there and told them to leave.

The night of Feb. 16, Fuentes and his companion arrived at Miami International Airport to leave the U.S. for Mexico City, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspected the phone of Fuentes’ companion and found a close-up image of the license plate of the U.S. Government source’s vehicle in the “recently deleted folder” of her phone.

When asked about the photo, Fuentes admitted to telling his companion to take the photo of the license plate, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Border Patrol found a WhatsApp message on Fuentes' phone from his companion with the same photo of the license plate. Fuentes then confessed he was told by a Russian government official to take the photo and the messages on his phone proved that in court.

A pretrial detention hearing for Fuentes is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. in U.S. magistrate court in Miami.

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