Contractors Smuggled Armed Mexican Nationals To Guard Trump’s Border Wall: Complaint
Construction companies hired to help erect President Donald Trump’s southern border wall secretly helped armed Mexican nationals illegally cross into the U.S. while paying them to provide security detail at their construction sites, according to a whistleblower complaint unsealed Friday.
Sullivan Land Services Co. (SLS) and subcontractor Ultimate Concrete of El Paso are accused in the complaint of having facilitated the illegal crossings, with Ultimate Concrete allegedly creating a dirt road to allow entry from Mexico into the U.S. and covering security cameras with construction trucks.
Both companies are alleged to have also intentionally overcharged the federal government for work on the wall, which has so far cost the U.S. more than $11 billion and is meant to prevent illegal crossings.
The allegations were brought forward by two former security contractors in a 37-page false claims complaint that was filed in the Southern District of California back in February. It was unsealed last week after the Justice Department declined to take over the case after being allowed to review it while it was sealed.
HuffPost could not independently verify the claims in the suit.
The former security managers said they had been hired to provide security at the wall’s construction sites by SLS early last year and, until their respective dismissals in November and December, they personally saw evidence of illegal activity, as well as heard fellow workers detail such allegations.
A representative with SLS did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Tuesday, while the president of Ultimate Concrete, Jesse Guzman, dismissed the allegations to The New York Times.
“Everybody can allege whatever they want to, and that does not make it correct or make it the truth,” he said, describing the whistleblowers as merely angry that “something didn’t go their way.”
The whistleblowers were only identified in the complaint as former law enforcement officers, one of whom spent 10 years working as a sheriff’s deputy with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The second is identified as a former FBI supervisory special agent whose more than 12 years with the agency included serving as a Special Agent on a public corruption squad in Washington, D.C.
That former agent said they first contacted the FBI with allegations of corruption in July of last year. Both security contractors then met with the FBI that following November.
In addition to violating federal laws, the complaint claims that the contractors’ decision to hire Mexican nationals violated the border wall’s construction agreement with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Under previously agreed to terms, the construction companies were required to immediately report any suspected border crossing to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and to have no direct coordination with Mexican entities. All workers, including hired private security, were also required to obtain preapproval by CBP before they entered the construction site. Contractor personnel, equipment or materials were also prohibited from crossing into Mexico.
The complaint alleges that at least one U.S. government employee of the USACE was aware of, or involved in, the scheme and cover-up. A representative with USACE, in a statement to HuffPost, declined to comment on the allegation of an employee’s potential involvement or awareness of the alleged scheme, stating that the complaint was not made to the USACE.
SLS, which has multiple locations across the U.S. but is based in Galveston, Texas, has at least five government contracts connected to the wall’s construction in California, New Mexico and Texas. Those contracts are worth up to $1.4 billion, according to the complaint.
SLS has grossed around $1 billion in revenue from government contracts in recent years, according to a report by Forbes Magazine in 2019.
Its past projects reportedly include a $290 million contract rebuilding homes in New York City after Superstorm Sandy and a $375 million contract with FEMA to rebuild and repair homes in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
Published at Tue, 08 Dec 2020 21:08:10 +0000