Fri, 10 Apr 2020

A Mexican citizen has been arrested on suspicion of working for a Russian government official to track down the vehicle of a "U.S. government source" in the Miami area of Florida and inform the Russian of its whereabouts.

A U.S. Justice Department statement released on February 18 regarding the arrest of Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes doesn't say why a member of the Russian government wanted to know the physical location of the source's car, including its license plate number.

The U.S. government source wasn't identified.

Fuentes was allegedly recruited in 2019 and twice flew to Moscow, the last time being this month, to meet with the official, the Justice Department said.

The Mexican citizen was allegedly instructed to rent a specific property not in his name in the Miami area and was due in April or May to inform the Russian official of his findings in locating the vehicle.

He and his spouse on February 14 drew the suspicion of a security guard stationed where the U.S. source resided after they entered the premises in a rented vehicle while tailgating another car.

One of them managed to take a picture of the source's vehicle and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) later found the image along with one of the car's license plate on Fuentes's phone sent by his partner to an encrypted messaging application.

Fuentes was arrested at Miami International Airport on February 16 as he was preparing to leave for Mexico City with his companion. He was charged with acting on behalf of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general, and conspiracy to do the same.

He later admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct the operation.

A pretrial detention hearing was set for February 21 in a Miami court and arraignment is set for March 3 in the same court.

The case involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and CBP as well as an assistant attorney general for national security and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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