An internationally-renowned Mexican scientist pleaded guilty to acting as a Russian agent without notifying authorities in the United States.
Attorneys for Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, 37, filed a plea deal on Tuesday, Feb. 15, nearly two years to the day after Fuentes was arrested by FBI agents.
The FBI found incriminating information on Fuentes’ phone after he was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Miami International Airport, the Miami Herald reported.
A resident of Singapore, Fuentes led a double life as a cardiac scientist and researcher and unregistered Russian agent. He was also married to two women – one Mexican and one Russian – the latter of which has two daughters, court records state.
According to the Herald, Fuentes is man of means and accomplishment who said he made over $12,000 per month between his full-time job as a researcher at the National University of Singapore and a part-time job with an Israeli company in Germany.
He also had more than $100,000 in various bank accounts and has published at least 100 articles in scientific journals, Feuntes’ attorneys said.
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In February 2020, Fuentes took a trip to Miami with his Mexican wife under the guise of business and tourism. However, he’d actually been instructed by someone believed to be a Russian intelligence official to spy on an FBI informant who provided intelligence about Russian spying activities, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
The Mexican scientist had his wife take a photo of the informant’s car and license plate and send it to him on WhatsApp. He was supposed to share with the Russian official upon his return to Russia, the DOJ said.
“Fuentes’s travel companion, at his request, took a photo of the specified U.S. person’s car. A WhatsApp message from Fuentes’s travel companion to Fuentes contained a close-up photograph of the specified U.S. person’s car,” the release stated.
“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,” the DOJ said.
According to the factual statement filed with Fuentes’ plea deal, he met with the Russian agent several times in 2019 and was promised that his wife and daughters would receive help getting out of Russia.
Fuentes confessed to one count of acting as an agent of the foreign government in the United States. He faces a four-year sentence.
He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks on May 17.
Photo: Oaxacan scientist Héctor Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes has been detained in Miami and accused of spying for Russia. Photo: Archive Agency EL UNIVERSAL/EELG (GDA via AP Images)