Contractors working on Trump’s border wall illegally smuggled in armed Mexican guards to protect construction sites, whistleblower complaint says

Image
A new section of border fencing near San Diego, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, on February 27, 2019. Jorge Duenes/Reuters
  • Two whistleblowers have alleged corruption between an employee of the US Army Corps of Engineers and two companies building President Donald Trump’s border wall in San Diego, according to recently unsealed court files.
  • The complaint accuses Sullivan Land Services Co. and a subcontractor, Ultimate Concrete of El Paso, of illegally bringing in armed, unvetted Mexican workers as security on the projects.
  • The filing also said the companies overcharged the government for construction work.
  • Both companies declined to comment on the complaint, while The New York Times reported that the Justice Department declined to intervene in the case.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A pair of whistleblowers have accused two companies building President Donald Trump’s border wall of illegally hiring “unvetted” Mexican armed guards to watch over construction projects, according to a recently unsealed court filing.

Two companies named in the case — Sullivan Land Services Co. and a subcontractor, Ultimate Concrete of El Paso — are also accused of overcharging the US government for construction work and making false statements about both issues.

The complaint says Ultimate Concrete even constructed a new road from the Mexican side of the border into the US, facilitating Mexican access to the work site.

The whistleblowers said at least one employee of the US Army Corps of Engineers was aware of a cover-up around these issues — and may even have been given kickbacks by Ultimate Concrete.

Business Insider could not independently verify the claims in the suit. Both companies named in the complaint declined to comment, and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What the whistleblowers say

The filing did not name the whistleblowers but described them as a former deputy sheriff and a former FBI special agent who were hired by Sullivan Land Services to provide security on the San Diego projects and worked together in overlapping periods throughout 2019.

Sullivan Land Services has at least five government contracts connected to building sections of border wall in California, New Mexico, and Texas, which are worth a total of up to $US1.4 billion, according to the complaint.

In their complaint, the whistleblowers accused both companies of “knowingly permitting the use of unvetted workers in sensitive and lightly secured areas in the immediate vicinity of the US-Mexico border,” adding that their contracts prohibited this.

The complaint said the companies misrepresented this hiring situation to the government and “urged others to do the same.”

“At least one US government employee of the USACE was aware of or involved in the cover-up,” the complaint continued. The whistleblowers also said senior figures at Ultimate Concrete had suggested many times that the company was making corrupt payments to that Army Corps of Engineers employee.

They said Ultimate Concrete’s president often socialised with the Army Corps of Engineers employee, taking the person “to golf outings and expensive dinners.” The complaint also cited another Ultimate Concrete employee saying that the Army Corps of Engineers officer had been assured of a job at Ultimate Concrete at a later date.

The first whistleblower‚ the former deputy sheriff, said in the complaint that when employees tried to bring this up with Ultimate Concrete they would be told to drop the issue and that it was being addressed.

Liz Rogers Alvarado, a spokeswoman for Sullivan Land Services, told Business Insider the company did not comment on litigation.

Jesse Guzman, the president of Ultimate Concrete, told Business Insider he was unaware of the case and declined to comment. He told The New York Times that “everybody can allege whatever they want to, and that does not make it correct or make it the truth.”

He added that the two whistleblowers were upset that “something didn’t go their way.”

An Army Corps of Engineers representative told Business Insider in a statement that the complaint was not made to the Army and that the Department of Justice was responsible for reviewing it.

According to The Times, the DOJ has declined to intervene in the case. Business Insider has contacted the DOJ for comment.

Read the full complaint here: