FBI agents carried out a large raid across the state targeting the offices of an engineering company connected to the construction of the border wall. Agents raided offices in San Antonio, Houston, and McAllen, as well as various city and county offices in the city of Laredo and Webb County.
Federal agents would not discuss the nature of the raid, but confirmed that they were “conducting law enforcement activity,” a statement by the FBI revealed. Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation is one of the companies that has been involved in the construction of border barriers and expressed interest in the construction of the border wall.
The engineering company has proposed spending $378.92 million to fill several miles of fence and wall gaps in Hidalgo County, according to previous unrelated reporting from the San Antonio Express-News. Due to the area’s proximity to the river and the need for levees, Dannenbaum’s proposal would add concrete shores and then erect several feet of fencing on top.
The FBI raids took place at the Dannenbaum Engineering offices in Houston, San Antonio, Laredo, as well as the Laredo City Hall, the Laredo Public Works Office, and some Webb County offices.
“While we can’t discuss the nature of the work we are doing, there is no public safety threat at the locations where we are present,” the FBI said in their statement about the various raids. In McAllen, Texas, Breitbart Texas witnessed agents going in and out of the Dannenbaum Engineering office carrying boxes and computer equipment.
The nature of the raids was not revealed by authorities nor available court documents; however, Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. has a history of being the target of various lawsuits and grand jury investigations in the past.
In 2005, the Brownsville Navigation District sued Dannenbaum over $21.4 million that the government entity paid to the engineering firm for the construction of an international bridge that was never built, the Brownsville Herald reported at the time. The funds were paid to subcontractors in Mexico that were then funneled to shell companies.
By 2008, then Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos did not seek to recover the missing funds and signed an agreement with the firm ending the case. The agreement moved forward even after a grand jury had handed down a sealed indictment. FBI agents arrested Villalobos who was eventually convicted of racketeering and extortion in a separate case. In 2014, a federal judge sentenced Villalobos to 13 years in prison.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Disclosure: One of the authors of this piece, Brandon Darby, previously worked with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force as a human source and testified on their behalf in a number of federal trials. Darby has been a vocal public advocate for the Special Agents of the FBI and for their use of human sources.)