A Mexican national arrested by US authorities in 2020 and accused of assisting Russian intelligence pleaded guilty Tuesday to one charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government in the United States, according to court documents.
The government alleged that Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, 36, who lived in Singapore and worked as an occupational researcher, was recruited by a Russian government official in 2019 and directed to rent an apartment in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Court documents alleged that Fuentes traveled to Moscow in February 2020, where he met with the Russian official and was given a description of a vehicle used by a US government source. Fuentes was told to find the vehicle and obtain the license plate number – all without taking pictures – and report the plate information and location of the car back to Russia, according to court documents.
Fuentes instructed an unnamed companion to take a photo of the source’s car, which investigators found in a WhatsApp message between the two individuals, the Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday.
“The manner in which Fuentes communicated with the Russian government official and his undertakings in this case are consistent with the tactics of the Russian intelligence services for spotting, assessing, recruiting and handling intelligence assets and sources,” according to the DOJ release.
Cabrera Fuentes was stopped by customs officials at Miami International Airport on February 16, 2020, as he and a companion were preparing to leave the US, and reportedly “admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct this operation,” the Justice Department said.
CNN has reached out to his lawyers for comment on the change of plea.
Sentencing in the case is scheduled for May 17, according to court records. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, the DOJ said Wednesday.