MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The Mexican national accused of spying for Russia while living in South Florida is expected to appear federal court in Miami on Friday.
U.S Department of Justice officials said a Russian government official recruited Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes in 2019 and directed him to rent a specific property in Miami-Dade.
After several trips to Moscow, the DOJ said Fuentes met with his Russian handler in February of 2020, where he was ordered to scout a U.S. government source's vehicle.
Fuentes was reportedly told to "locate the car, obtain the source's vehicle license plate number, and note the physical location of the source's vehicle."
Court documents show Fuentes, who was to meet with the Russian official again in April or May, traveled to Miami on February 13th from Mexico City.
The next day, Fuentes apparently tried to enter the residence where the U.S. government target lived. He caught the attention of a security guard because he was tailgating another car to get in.
According to the DOJ, when the security guard approached Fuentes' car, Fuentes' wife got out, found the source's vehicle and snapped a picture of the license plate.
When questioned by the security guard, the pair reportedly told security they were there to see someone, but the guard didn't recognize the name and asked them to leave.
Two days later, on February 16th, Fuentes and his wife made their way to Miami International Airport to fly back to Mexico City.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped the duo, searching both of their phones. CBP agents found the license plate photo in the "recently deleted folder" of his wife's phone and in a WhatsApp message on his phone.
When pressed, Fuentes reportedly admitted he was being ordered by a Russian government official to conduct scouting operation.
Court documents show that messaged on Fuentes' phone showed the Russian government official initiated and directed the meetings.
Fuentes told a judge he worked part-time for an Israeli company and also was a researcher in Singapore.
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