U.S. arrests Mexican citizen in Miami for allegedly acting on behalf of Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities in Miami arrested a Mexican citizen who had been recruited by a Russian government official to locate and obtain the license plate number of the car of a “U.S. government source,” the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, a resident of Singapore, was arrested on Sunday after he arrived at Miami International Airport with his wife to take a flight to Mexico City, the Justice Department said in a statement.

A Russian government official had recruited Fuentes last year, and in a meeting in Russia earlier this month provided him with a physical description of a U.S. government source’s car and instructed him to locate the car and obtain its license plate number, the Justice Department said.

The statement did not give details about the source.

The couple drove to the source’s place of residence on Friday and Fuentes’ wife took a photo of the car’s license plate, the Justice Department said.

A close-up image of the license plate was found on her phone when U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents inspected the couple’s phones at the airport, the Justice Department said.

“Fuentes admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct this operation,” the Justice Department said.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fuentes was arrested on a complaint charging him with “acting within the United States on behalf of a foreign government (Russia), without notifying the Attorney General, and conspiracy to do the same.”

He is due to appear for a detention hearing on Friday and his arraignment is set for March 3, both in U.S. magistrate court in Miami.

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