Mexican University Researcher Arrested For Spying In The US On Behalf Of Russia
A university researcher from Mexico was arrested in Miami this week and accused by federal officials of spying in the U.S. on behalf of Russia, according to The New York Times.
Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, who is listed as an associate professor at the medical school run jointly by Duke University and the National University of Singapore, allegedly tailed a government source in Miami and was set to meet up with the Russian official who recruited him in April or May.
Fuentes and his wife were preparing to board a plane back to Mexico on Sunday when they were stopped by a customs official and asked for their phones.
In a file of deleted images on the phone of Fuentes’ wife, the official found a close-up image of a license plate, which belonged to the vehicle of a government source, according to federal prosecutors.
The microbiologist then admitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials that he had instructed his wife to take the photo and was “acting on behalf of a Russian government official who had recruited him in 2019 to rent property in Miami-Dade County and gather information,” The Times reported.
“The Russian official told Fuentes not to rent the apartment in Fuentes’s own name and not to tell his family about their meetings,” according to a Justice Department statement.
Fuentes reportedly met with the Russian official twice in Moscow, and it was during the second meeting, which took place this month, that the official gave him a description of the source’s vehicle.
Fuentes was instructed “to locate the car, obtain the source’s vehicle license plate number, and note the physical location of the source’s vehicle,” the DOJ statement said.
When Fuentes and his wife traveled to the home of the government source on Friday, a security guard at the location became suspicious because Fuentes had tailgated another car to enter the complex, The Times reported.
As the security guard approached their vehicle, Fuentes’ wife exited the car to take the photo. Fuentes told the guard that the couple was there to visit someone, but the guard did not recognize them and told them to leave.
Fuentes will be arraigned on March 3 in Miami federal court, according to federal officials.
Fuentes reportedly obtained his degree in molecular biology and microbiology at Kazan University in Russia.