SpaceX threatened with arrests as local authorities in Texas warn it may have committed a crime by using private security guards to block public roads

·2 min read
A gated entrance by a prototype of SpaceX's Starship spacecraft is seen at the company's Texas launch facility on September 28, 2019 in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas.
SpaceX has had repeated run-ins with local authorities and residents stemming from its spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas. Loren Elliott/Getty Images
  • Texas officials warned SpaceX it might have committed crimes by closing public roads, KGRW reported.

  • In a letter, Cameron County DA Luis Saenz accused SpaceX of knowingly ignoring previous warnings.

  • Saenz called the conduct "unacceptable" and threatened arrests for future violations.

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Local authorities have accused SpaceX of violating the law by attempting to block access to public roads around its spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, according to the KGRW reporter Rudy Mireles.

SpaceX's security staff may have broken Texas laws against obstructing public roads and impersonating a public official - Class B misdemeanor and third-degree felony violations, respectively - Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz wrote in a letter to SpaceX, according to Mireles.

Saenz warned SpaceX that future violations could result in individual SpaceX employees or contractors being arrested as well as the company facing criminal prosecution, according to the letter.

Neither SpaceX nor Cameron County responded to a request from Insider for comment.

The letter Mireles obtained said that when members of Saenz's staff went to investigate a complaint that SpaceX had denied public access to two county roads near State Highway 4, a SpaceX security guard "immediately approached, stopped, and detained" them and ordered them to return to the highway.

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Saenz's staff warned the SpaceX guard that Cameron County authorities hadn't given SpaceX permission to close the road, according to the letter.

"This conduct is unacceptable. And I strongly believe you, Mr. Patel, and Space-X, also knew it was unacceptable," Saenz wrote, according to Mireles, referring to SpaceX's senior director of Starship operations, Shyamal Patel, to whom the letter was addressed.

Saenz wrote Cameron County had separately in April warned SpaceX about similar conduct, according to Mireles.

Saenz also wrote that neither the security guard, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, nor SpaceX's head of security for the facility appeared to have proper security licenses and asked SpaceX to confirm whether its security staff was properly licensed and whether its security guards were armed.

SpaceX, which first bought land in Boca Chica in 2012, has frequently clashed with local officials and residents as it has attempted to build out its rocket facility, while some told Insider's Kate Duffy they're welcoming the economic boom it had created.

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