Armed Federal Agents Enter Warehouse in Puerto Rico to Seize Hoarded Electric Equipment

On Saturday, a day after becoming aware of a massive store of rebuilding materials being held by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the U.S. federal government — the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with their security detail — entered a Palo Seco warehouse owned by the public utility to claim and distribute the equipment, according to a spokesperson for the Corps.

Rumors of a tense standoff had been circulating on the island, but the encounter was confirmed to The Intercept in a statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Asked if the federal officers were armed when they entered the warehouse, USACE spokesperson Luciano Vera said they were indeed accompanied by security detail and quickly began distributing the material after seizing it. Vera declined to say whether there was a confrontation at the entrance, saying only that PREPA officials ultimately toured the warehouse along with the feds:

Leadership responsible for restoring the Puerto Rico power grid and their security detail toured the warehouse in cooperation with PREPA. USACE conducted a full inventory and immediately sent out critical materials to contractors at work sites. USACE will continue to distribute critical materials from the site to contractors. The hope is to strengthen the partnership between PREPA and its restoration partners, while increasing visibility of the inventory of all materials on the island. PREPA has invited FEMA and the Corps to visit its warehouses anytime and to distribute material as needed.

The federal government “began distributing [supplies] to contractors,” Vera said, including hard-to-find full-tension steel sleeves, critical to rebuilding. “We obtained several hundred of these sleeves on Saturday,” Vera added.
https://theintercept.com/2018/01/10/...rricane-maria/