Hector Cabrera Fuentes sentenced to 4 years in prison for spying for Russia

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

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

“As of now, I have no interest in getting involved in anything like that,” Cabrera said in court, according to reports from the Miami Herald. “Freedom comes first and so does family.”

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

Driving through the airport, customs officials found a close-up of an FBI informant’s license plate number that the couple had exchanged via WhatsApp.

Investigators uncovered surveillance footage from a day earlier showing the couple following another vehicle onto the grounds 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 to being an unregistered foreign agent in February after he was caught stalking an FBI whistleblower with one of his two wives

Cabrera’s botched espionage attempt apparently began in 2019 when his Russian wife and their two daughters traveled from Germany to Russia to take care of paperwork. When the woman attempted to return to Germany, she was denied exit, an FBI agent said in an affidavit attached to the original indictment.

Cabrera then flew to Russia to see his family and was reportedly approached by a Russian official he had met for work years earlier. The person, who is not identified in court filings, warned Cabrera that his family should not travel to Europe or apply for a U.S. visa.

Around that time, Cabrera began to believe the person worked for Vladimir Putin’s FSB intelligence agency, according to the FBI.

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

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

At the officer’s direction, Cabrera traveled to Miami on a tourist and business visa and, using an employee’s name, rented an apartment in the same complex where the government whistleblower source lived.

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

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

He was also appointed director of the FEMSA Biotechnology Center at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in northern Mexico in 2018, where he says he received his PhD in molecular microbiology in Russia and molecular cardiology in Germany.

In his hometown of El Espinal in southern Oaxaca, Cabrera is something of a local hero, known for his work advancing scientific research, curing diabetics and helping rebuild homes after devastating earthquakes.

With postal wires Hector Cabrera Fuentes sentenced to 4 years in prison for spying for Russia


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