A Mexican citizen was charged Tuesday with being an “unregistered foreign agent” for Russia. He is accused of spying on at least one U.S. informant in South Florida.
Politico reports, Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes was allegedly recruited by a Russian contact to locate and get the license plate number of a vehicle used by a U.S. government source in Florida, according to a Justice Department release on Tuesday. The Russian agent had allegedly given Fuentes the assignment when he flew to Russia earlier this month and instructed Fuentes to meet him in Russia in April or May with the information, a DOJ statement said.
Fuentes was arrested and charged with acting as an agent within the United States on behalf of a foreign government without declaring so to U.S. authorities. The suspect attracted the attention of security guards by trespassing on the residential compound where the U.S. government source resided. Fuentes’ rental car was seen entering the compound while tailgating another vehicle. A person with Fuentes then photographed the source’s vehicle and license plate, according to the release.
He was caught when Customs and Border Protection stopped Fuentes and his companion when they appeared at Miami’s airport Sunday night to leave the country for Mexico. Border agents found a close-up image of the source’s license plate on the phone of Fuentes’ travel companion and found WhatsApp messages on Fuentes’ phone that revealed correspondence with the Russian agent arranging the mission. Fuentes admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct the operation, the release said.
According to the release, a Russian government official recruited Fuentes, a resident of Singapore, in 2019. The Russian agent later directed Fuentes to rent a specific apartment in Miami-Dade County, Florida, under a false name. He traveled to Russia shortly after and again in 2019 to meet with the Russian agent.
Cabrera arrived with his Mexican wife last Thursday, rented a Chrysler sedan and drove directly to a Miami-area condominium complex, according to court documents.
The case is being prosecuted in Southern Florida.