A Mexican man residing in Singapore was arrested in the U.S. on Tuesday, after he allegedly tracked a U.S. government source for Russia in order to obtain the source's license plate number. Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes has been charged with acting in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign government without notifying the attorney general, and conspiracy to do the same.
Court documents allege that a Russian government official recruited Fuentes in 2019 and tasked him with renting a specific property in Miami-Dade County, Florida, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. He was allegedly told not to use his own name when renting the property.
Fuentes later allegedly met the official in Russia, where the person approved of his arrangements. During a subsequent trip, which allegedly occurred this month, the official gave Fuentes "a physical description of a U.S. Government source's vehicle" and told him to find the vehicle, get its license plate number, and note its location, according to documents cited in the press release.
The official also allegedly told Fuentes to meet him again in the coming months to share his results.
A U.S. official told CBS News that the government source targeted in the operation is someone who has provided information on Russian intelligence services.
On February 13, Fuentes traveled to Miami from Mexico City and rented a car, according to documents cited in the release. The following day, he allegedly caught the attention of a security guard when he tailgated another vehicle to gain access to the site where the government source resided.
When the security guard approached, Fuentes' wife left the car and took a picture of the source's license plate, documents say. When asked why he was on the premises, Fuentes allegedly gave the name of a person the pair was visiting — but when security did not recognize that person's name, Fuentes was told to leave.
Two days later, Fuentes and his wife went to Miami International Airport en route to Mexico City, according to the release. U.S. officials found an image of the source's license plate in the "recently deleted" folder of her phone — and when asked, Fuentes allegedly said he'd asked her to photograph the license plate. When Customs and Border Patrol agents searched Fuentes' phone, they allegedly found a WhatsApp message from her containing the same photo.
Fuentes allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was told by a Russian official to carry out the operation. Court documents cited by the press release allegedly show a Russian official initiating and guiding the meetings.
A pretrial detention hearing is scheduled for February 21, and Fuentes' arraignment has been set for March 3, according to the Department of Justice.
Clare Hymes and Jeff Pegues contributed to this report.