Hector Cabrera Fuentes sentenced to 4 years for spying for Russia

Hector Cabrera Fuentes sentenced to 4 years for spying for Russia

A renowned Mexican scientist who led a double life with two families on separate continents has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for spying for Russia on an FBI informant in Miami.

Hector Cabrera Fuentes, 37, learned his fate Tuesday in Miami federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in February to acting as an “unregistered foreign agent” in the US on Russia’s behalf.

“I have zero interest in getting involved in anything like that from now on,” Cabrera said in court, according to reporting by Miami Herald. “Freedom comes first and the family, too.”

The prominent biochemist, cardiovascular researcher and philanthropist was arrested in February 2020 at Miami International Airport as he and his Mexican wife were returning to their home in Mexico City.

While traveling through the airport, customs officers found a close-up image of an FBI informant’s license plate, which the couple had exchanged via WhatsApp.

Investigators discovered surveillance footage from a day earlier that showed the couple following another vehicle onto the premises of a Miami-area condominium and snapping a photo of the government source’s car and license plate.

Hector Cabrera Fuentes
The biochemist pleaded guilty in February to a charge of being an unregistered foreign agent, after he was caught trailing an FBI informant with one of his two wives.

Cabrera’s bungled foray into espionage apparently began in 2019 when his Russian wife and her two daughters traveled from Germany to Russia to take care of some paperwork. When the woman tried to return to Germany, she was not allowed to depart, an FBI agent said in an affidavit accompanying the original indictment.

Cabrera then flew to Russia to see his family and was allegedly approached by a Russian official he had met years earlier in a professional capacity. The individual, who is not identified in court filings, warned Cabrera that his family shouldn’t travel to Europe or seek a US visa.

It was around this time that Cabrera began to believe the individual worked for Vladimir Putin’s FSB intelligence agency, according to the FBI.

Later, at a subsequent meeting in Moscow, the same official produced old emails from Cabrera’s account in which the Mexican scientist appeared to be scouting for real estate in Miami.

The Russian official brought up Cabrera’s complicated family situation — with one wife in Russia and another in Mexico — and told him, “We can help each other,” according to the indictment.

At the official’s direction, Cabrera traveled to Miami on a tourism and business visa, and, using an associate’s name, rented an apartment in the same complex where the government informant source was living.

The individual Cabrera was trailing is not named in court papers and is described only as a US government “confidential human source” who previously provided information about Russian intelligence activities affecting US national security interests.

Prior to his arrest two years ago, Cabrera worked in Singapore as an associate professor at a medical school jointly run by Duke University and the National University of Singapore.

He also was appointed director in 2018 of the FEMSA Biotechnology Center at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in northern Mexico, which said he earned doctorates in molecular microbiology in Russia and molecular cardiology in Germany.

In his hometown of El Espinal, in the southern state of Oaxaca, Cabrera is something of a local hero, remembered for his work to promote scientific research, heal those suffering from diabetes and assist in the rebuilding of homes after devastating earthquakes.

With Post wires

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