Mexican national arrested, charged with acting as Russian agent in US

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Mexican national has been arrested and charged with acting as a Russian agent within the United States, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, who lived in Singapore and worked as an occupational researcher, was recruited by a Russian government official last year and directed to rent an apartment in Miami-Dade County, Florida, according to a DOJ news release.

Court documents allege that Fuentes traveled to Moscow earlier this month, where he met with the Russian official and was given a description of a vehicle used by a US government source. Fuentes was told to find the vehicle and obtain the license plate number — all without taking pictures — and report back to Russia, according to court documents.

Investigators say Fuentes traveled to Miami from Mexico City on February 13 with a temporary business/tourism visa. He was spotted the next day by a security guard where the US government source lives and where Fuentes’ companion was allegedly seen taking a picture of the license plate of the source’s vehicle, federal authorities say.

On February 16, Fuentes and his companion arrived at Miami International Airport to leave the US and were stopped by US Customs and Border Protection, according to court documents. Fuentes reportedly “admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct this operation,” the DOJ said.

Fuentes indicated he believed the Russian official worked for Russia’s Federal Security Service, Russia’s counterintelligence mission which reports directly to Vladimir Putin, according to the criminal complaint.

At one point last year the Russian official told Fuentes “we can help each other,” the complaint says.

“Fuentes identified conversations stored on his cellular phone with the Russian Official, which corroborated in-person meetings between Fuentes and the Russian Official. The messages showed the meetings were initiated and directed by the Russian official,” according to the complaint.

Fuentes is married to a Mexican woman and to a Russian woman with two children, the complaint says.

It was not immediately clear if Fuentes had an attorney.

He is scheduled to face a federal judge on Friday in Miami for a pretrial detention hearing. His arraignment is scheduled for March 3.

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