DALLAS – The FBI raided city and county offices in Laredo and three corporate offices for Dannenbaum Engineering Corp., one of the largest contractors for public projects in Texas.
The Texas Department of Public Safety took part in the raids Wednesday, but neither state nor federal officials have identified the reason for the investigation.
The raids came in the wake of FBI investigations of government officials in several Texas-Mexico border counties that have led to dozens of indictments for bribery and public corruption.
The raids closed the offices of Webb County and Laredo, its county seat, in a search for undisclosed documents and evidence. Dannenbaum’s offices in Houston, San Antonio and McAllen were also closed.
Attorney Joel M. Androphy of Berg & Androphy, counsel for Dannenbaum, said the firm is cooperating with investigators.
“Company management is investigating the basis of the government requests,” Androphy said. “We are uncertain whether the inquiry is focused on the company’s activities or those of its business competitors. We intend to comment further when appropriate.”
According to news reports, some of the files taken were for the El Pico water treatment plant in Laredo.
In McAllen, Dannenbaum is in negotiations to serve as program manager for construction of a new Hidalgo County Courthouse. County officials told The Brownsville Herald that they knew of no raids on other firms involved in the project.
Dannenbaum also authored a $379 million plan for Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 to combine a proposed 30-mile section of levee on the Rio Grande with President Trump’s proposed border wall that is yet to be funded. Dannenbaum worked on a 20-mile section of the levee financed by local bonds and federal funds in 2007.
The company is also consultant on Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority’s toll project connecting the Anzalduas and Pharr-Reynosa international bridges. FBI officials took files from the RMA, according to The McAllen Monitor. The toll project is designed to route commercial traffic toward the rapidly developing Interstate 69 that will connect inland ports along the Rio Grande with Texas seaports on the Gulf coast.
In neighboring Cameron County, Dannenbaum was involved in a 2007 dispute over construction of an international bridge for the Brownsville Navigation District. Dannenbaum was paid $15 million for engineering work on a bridge that was never completed, prompting a lawsuit and calls for an investigation. The bridge work was financed through a 1991 bond issue of $21 million. Dannenbaum denied any wrongdoing and settled with the district out of court.
The company was also mentioned in federal court records during a massive corruption investigation that developed in 2007 in El Paso County and led to indictments of more than 30 local officials over following years. No officials from Dannenbaum were ever charged in the bribery and corruption investigation.
In Laredo, Dannenbaum is a consultant on the Loop 20 that bypasses the city and connects with the World Trade Bridge serving North American Free Trade Agreement commercial traffic to Interstate 35. The project is funded by both Laredo and Webb County. Laredo is the largest international port of entry on the Texas-Mexico border.