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Press Release

Federal Judge Sentences San Antonio Cell Tower Arsonist to 78 Months in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio man was sentenced yesterday in a federal court in San Antonio to six and a half years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm and arson affecting interstate and foreign commerce.

According to court documents, Sean Aaron Smith, 30, maliciously attempted to damage and destroy, by means of fire, multiple cellular telephone towers around San Antonio between April 2021 and May 2022.

Smith was arrested in a traffic stop on May 13, 2022.  During the traffic stop, law enforcement officers located a handgun on the floorboard in front of the driver’s seat.  Executing a search warrant for Smith’s apartment on May 15, 2022, investigators found additional firearms.  Smith knowingly possessed the firearms after being previously convicted of two felony crimes where he served more than a year imprisonment on each. Smith pleaded guilty on Aug. 17, 2023 to six counts of arson of cellphone towers and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm.

“My office will not tolerate attacks on our critical infrastructure seeking to shut down our cellular telephone system and endangering our citizens who need to use our 911 emergency systems,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas.

“An attack on the infrastructure of a community has the potential for devastating effects,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Olson for the FBI San Antonio Division. “Sean Smith tried multiple times to burn cell phone towers down around San Antonio, in support of his anti-5G ideology. When he was caught, he had a handgun in his vehicle, despite his status as a convicted felon. We want to thank the San Antonio Fire Department Arson squad, FBI, San Antonio Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Rangers for their continued assistance in keeping our communities safe.”

The San Antonio Fire Department Arson Squad, FBI, San Antonio Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Rangers investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Roomberg prosecuted the case.


Updated January 25, 2024

Domestic Terrorism