The Crime Report
November 18, 2013
When defense lawyer Fermín L. Arraiza-Navas sat down with a
prospective client in San Juan, Puerto Rico last April, he casually
asked the man about the Global Positioning System (GPS) ankle bracelet
that he was wearing as a condition for his bail.
The reply was just as casual.
It wasn’t the first time the lawyer encountered GPS bracelets with
apparently extraordinary powers. He told the Puerto Rico Center for
Investigative Reporting (CPIPR) that a previous defendant’s GPS ankle
bracelet started to vibrate during a meeting with him.
But Arraiza-Navas decided this was more than a coincidence. He
cancelled the meeting and filed a motion at the Puerto Rico State
Superior Court in San Juan to have the device removed.
During the court hearing on the motion, his worst suspicions were confirmed.
A Corrections Department agent, who works at the Puerto Rico
Pretrial Services Office’s monitoring center for defendants free on
bail, placed a GPS ankle bracelet on the court podium and made a call
from the device to a technician of the SecureAlert company, which
provides them at a facility in Sandy, Utah.
The technician, who was addressed through the GPS ankle
bracelet—which has a phone feature—testified that, although the device
is supposed to vibrate when activated from Utah, the feature could be
turned on without warning.