District Attorney warns SpaceX about unauthorized road closures, security personnel

SpaceX

A SpaceX prototype is seen on Nov. 30, 2020, ready to launch from the company’s private facility near Boca Chica Beach, Texas. (Border Report File Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Cameron County District Attorney has sent a letter to SpaceX warning that they may be violating the law by closing county roads and hiring security that may not be licensed to carry weapons and furthermore requests details on their road closure hours.   

In a letter sent to the senior director of SpaceX, Shyamal Patel, District Attorney Luis Saenz outlines concerns with some of the aerospace company’s operations.   

This is a response following the letter sent to the DA and Judge Eddie Trevino, by the non-profit organization Save RGV, which called for the cease of road closures due to violations of agreements from 2013 and 2014 by the Cameron County and General Land Office, and the Federal Aviation Administration respectively.  

In the letter, Saenz writes that his staff went to the SpaceX site on June 9 to check on concerns brought up by the non-profit and found that a county road was being blocked off by private SpaceX security, who he questions whether had the authority to carry a handgun or not.  

“Mr. Lopez stated that he was a member of Space-X Security, that they could not use the road and that they had to turn around and return to Highway 4,” stated Saenz in the letter.  

The road that Saenz’s staff was attempting to access was Remedios Street off Highway 4.  

Another road in question was Joanna Street, which Saenz’s staff said had been built over or closed off and renamed to “Rocket Road.” 

He asked for clarification on the authority to do such, as both Remedios Street and Joanna Street are county roads.  

“Closing or building over portions of Joanne Street would not be okay and potentially is a taking of public property,” stated the letter.  

In regards to security “overzealous security,” Saenz asked for confirmation that all SpaceX security personnel are properly licensed, or in the process of being so if they carry arms.  

“Furthermore, Texas Department of Public Safety records reflect that neither Mr. Lopez nor Space-X Brownsville Head of Security, Mr. Milburn hold any type of Texas Security license,” the letter stated, after noting that Lopez was wearing a bulletproof vest. 

Failure to clarify could result in SpaceX being liable for crimes in the State of Texas, such as obstructing a highway or other passageway and impersonating a public servant.  

Though Saenz gives the company benefit of the doubt due to clerical errors and is awaiting clarification, he goes on to call the conduct “unacceptable,” as SpaceX had already been given a warning in April 2021. 

He advises law enforcement not to work with SpaceX until things have been clarified.  

Saenz also requested details of the SpaceX road closure hours to follow up with Save RGV’s concern that they have exceeded them.  

He asked if SpaceX keeps records of those hours, how they are calculated, and if they match the amount presented by Save RGV.  

“If Space-X has indeed exceeded the allotted hours, then there is no longer a legal authorization to obstruct Highway 4.” 

He also asked if all road closures have been made with at least 14 days’ notice and if beach access mitigation plans have been submitted to the county, as agreed upon in the 2013 Memorandum between the county and General Land Office.  

“We are please that the District Attorney is taking the concerns of the public regarding the legalities of SpaceX’s operations seriously,” Save RGV board member, Patrick Anderson told KVEO.

SpaceX was asked to respond by Monday, June 14. We will follow up as more information becomes available.  

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