Feds: Deputy US Marshal Illegally Tracked Phones of Texans

June 14, 2022Carl Prine
illegally tracked phones

The US Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General investigates federal law enforcement officers and agents alleged to misuse telecommunications tracking services. FBI photo.

Federal prosecutors say a deputy US Marshal illegally used a geolocation service to track cell phones linked to people with whom he had a personal relationship — and their spouses.

Adrian Pena made his initial appearance in federal court in Austin on Monday, June 13, after a federal grand jury charged him with 11 counts of obtaining confidential phone records, two counts of false statements, and one count of falsifying records.

If convicted, Pena, 48, of Del Rio, faces up to 10 years behind bars for each count of misappropriating phone records; a maximum five-year sentence for each of the false statement counts; and 20 years in prison for falsifying an official record. Judge Dustin M. Howell ordered Pena released from custody, but the defendant is barred from traveling beyond the five counties that surround Del Rio, except for court hearings.

Pena is slated to be arraigned in Austin on June 21. No attorney is listed for him on the court docket. Attempts by Coffee or Die Magazine to reach Pena were unsuccessful.

deputy us marshal
The sworn law enforcement personnel of the US Marshals Service include 94 marshals who oversee 3,953 deputy marshals and criminal investigators. US Marshals Service photo.

The federal case against Pena centers around a telecommunications service provided by a private company, Dallas-based Securus Technologies.

Securus is best known for providing telephone calls to prison and jail inmates nationwide, but the company began offering location based services to law enforcement clients in 2013. It includes an “On Demand” feature that allows registered users to track the latitude and longitude coordinates of cell phones as they ping off transmission towers.

But the feature can’t be used unless the law enforcement client submits an electronic document that attests the user has been granted official permission to track a phone number linked to the cell phone customer.

Prosecutors say Pena wasn’t a client of the Securus system, but the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office was. As a deputy US Marshal, Pena was assigned to the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force inside the sheriff’s office in 2014 and misused the Securus system for 13 months straddling 2016 and 2017.

US Marshal illegally
The sworn law enforcement personnel of the US Marshals Service include 94 marshals who oversee 3,953 deputy marshals and criminal investigators. US Marshals Service photo.

According to his indictment, Pena routinely uploaded false documents — blank pages, award certificates, merit promotion bullet points, and letter templates — to the Securus system to spy on the locations of “his personal associates, including individuals with whom Pena was or had been in a personal relationship and their spouses.”

Pena allegedly wanted to know where a chum was, and also where that person’s spouse was, in real time. And when he was confronted about his alleged misuse of the system, Pena lied to investigators, according to court records.

After learning that the US Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General had launched a probe in late 2017 into his Securus searches, Pena drafted a false statement purportedly authored by the person he was tracking, and then asked the unnamed pal to sign and notarize it, prosecutors claim.

The bogus authorization greenlighted Pena to track the person’s cell phone “24/7-365” and “without any restrictions,” according to the indictment.

Read Next: Coyotes, Death Valley, and Vegas: Run Alongside This All-Female Relay Team of Deputy US Marshals

Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved