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Mexican man sentenced to 4 years for spying in U.S. for Russia

Mexican man sentenced to 4 years for spying in U.S. for Russia
Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, 36, of Mexico was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday for spying in the United States for Russia. Pool Photo by Win McNamee/UPI | License Photo

June 22 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Florida has sentenced a Mexican man to four years and one day in prison for spying for Russia in the United States, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, 36, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in February to acting on behalf of a foreign government without notifying the attorney general.

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The Justice Department said in a statement that Fuentes was tasked by the Kremlin to spy on a person within the United States who had previously given Washington information about the Russian government.

Prosecutors said Fuentes, who has spent significant time in Russia, was recruited by Moscow in 2019 and was instructed to rent a unit in a specific residential building in Miami-Dade County, a county where the U.S. target was residing.

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He was also instructed to obtain the license plate number and parking location of the target's car and provide it to his handler upon his return to Russia.

According to an earlier statement from the Justice Department, a third person identified as Fuentes' legal spouse in Mexico took a close-up photograph of the target's car on Feb. 14, 2020.

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"The manner in which Fuentes communicated with the Russian government officials 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 Justice Department said.

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On Feb. 16, the pair arrived at Miami International Airport en route to Mexico City when U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspected the phone of Fuentes' travel companion and found the image of the target's car in the recently deleted folder of her phone, prosecutors said, adding, a review of Fuentes' phone found the picture was sent to him by his travel companion via a WhatsApp message.

Fuentes then admitted to law enforcement officers that he was directed by a Russian government official to conduct the operation, prosecutors said.

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