Obama Deports Record Number of Immigrants, Using Scary Private GEO Group to Get the Job Done
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The road leading to the prison was mostly empty. A big rig or a truck rumbled past once in a while. Warehouses flanked the prison complex. There was some sort of pump substation across the street, and a big cluster of high-voltage transmission cables and transformers a little farther down. A gentleman’s club sat on a lot behind the prison, in sight of its fortified courtyard. Two dancers stood out back by the club’s service entrance, smoking and looking out at the brightly lit detention center in front of them. Other than that, there was nothing but desert scrub and Joshua trees for miles around.
At first I passed the prison completely, mistaking it for a cluster of warehouses. It was only when I saw the high metal fence surrounding an outdoor area lit up with blinding flood lights that I realized what I was looking at.
I doubled back and parked on the side of the road across the sprawling prison complex.
There were a couple of blue “Geo Group” signs. Shuttle busses of various sizes were clustered in a side parking lot. A dozen or so cars were parked in the lot out front, and two or three people were slowly walking toward the main entrance.
If I didn’t know otherwise, I never would have guessed that I was looking at the largest deportation facility in California. It could have been anything: a distribution hub, a warehouse or a large office complex. Hell, it could have even passed for a community college.
Unlike the imposing slab structures of federal prison complex a couple of miles to the east, the bland nondescript facade of Geo’s detention facility masked its brutal function, and gave no indication about the dark and bloody history of the company that ran it.
Y’see, Geo Group isn’t just any private prison operator. It started life as a subsidiary of the Wackenhut Corporation, the shady quasi-government security company founded in the 1950s by former FBI agent and fervent McCarthyite George R. Wackenhut.
Wackenhut packed his company with rightwing generals, John Birch Society leaders and future leaders of the military-security establishment, including William Casey and Frank Carlucci. He fashioned Wackenhut Corp into a modern version of the Pinkerton Agency, providing various security and espionage services to both the government and private clients.
It has defended U.S. Embassies all across the world, protected domestic nuclear facilities and currently guards our nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In the 1960s, Wackenhut spied on antiwar activists, infiltrated protest movements and compiled dossiers on 2.5 million suspected dissidents. Mining companies hired Wackenhut goons to serve as strikebreakers.There’s even a good chance Wackenhut was involved in transferring chemical weapons from the U.S. to Saddam Hussein in 1990, as reported in a 1992 SPY Magazine investigation titled “ Inside the Shadow CIA.”
“It is known throughout the industry that if you want a dirty job done, call Wackenhut,” a retired FBI special agent William Hinshaw told SPY. In the 1980s, George Wackenhut opened up a new subsidiary, the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, to take advantage of new and exciting lucrative business opportunity: private prisons.
We can go down a deep rabbit hole chasing Wackenhut’s spook connections. But the main thing to note is that the company feeds on and profits from military conflict, social unrest, economic hardship, paranoia and fear. And its private prison operations are simply the newest outgrowth of that business model.
With Wackenhut’s history as a violent rightwing paramilitary organization, it’s track record in prison management quickly became littered with corpses, broken bodies and rape victims. It racked up such a bad rep that the company was forced to change its name from Wackenhut to Geo Group.