A Mexican national is accused of working on behalf of Russia while allegedly trying to conduct surveillance of a U.S. government source in Miami, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.
Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, a Mexican national, has been arrested and charged with a single count of failing to register as an agent of a foreign power, Russia.
A senior Justice Department official says that for now, they’re not too concerned about Fuentes’ surveillance effort. Fuentes has not been charged with espionage.
The complaint alleges that Fuentes was recruited in 2019 and at that time he was directed by a Russian government official to rent a property in Miami-Dade County, and to rent that apartment not in his own name or to tell family about their meetings. Fuentes then allegedly traveled to Russia and discussed the arrangements.
Fuentes allegedly traveled to Moscow again this month to meet with the Russian government official. According to a Justice Department press release, “the Russian government official provided Fuentes with a physical description of a U.S. Government source’s vehicle and told Fuentes to locate the car, obtain the source’s vehicle license plate number, and note the physical location of the source’s vehicle.”
Fuentes was then allegedly tasked with reporting to the Russian official again in April or May of this year to inform him of the results of his search for the vehicle.
Last Thursday, Fuentes allegedly entered the location where the U.S. government source resided by tailgating another car to get through the gate. Security stopped Fuentes, who did not provide a correct name for who he was visiting, and in the meantime his wife took photos of the U.S. government source’s license plate.
Fuentes was stopped on Sunday at Miami International Airport en route to Mexico City. The documents say that the license plate photo was found on Fuentes' phone through WhatsApp and Fuentes allegedly admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by the Russian government official to conduct this operation.
His first court appearance is slated for Friday morning and his arraignment is set for Tuesday, March 3.