Federal officials have voiced their “high skepticism” over a company that has made a nearly $1 billion purchase of land surrounding the Travis Air Force Base.
The company, Flannery Associates LLC, has acquired approximately 55,000 acres of dry farmland in Solano County, California, over the last five years, ABC7 News reported.
These land acquisitions, which have included parcels on three sides of the critical military base, began in 2018 and have amounted to around $800 million.
Local and federal authorities have expressed concern over the ongoing purchases, dubbing them from suspicious to intimidating.
“Their intention isn’t to grow olive trees,” said Sarah Donnelly, a city councilmember for Rio Vista, a town encompassed by the acquired land.
“It feels nefarious to need all of the land to the point where you’re going to sue them to intimidate to sell to you – those aren’t farmers,” she continued, indicating that the company’s motives might extend beyond agricultural purposes.
“There seems like there’s something larger in the works,” said Donnelly.
More from ABC7 News:
The I-Team spoke with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“Shouldn’t principal owners purchasing land near military bases or national security sites be required to identify themselves?” the I-Team’s Stephanie Sierra asked.
“Yes. Absolutely,” Rep. Smith said. “I think we ought to get greater transparency on that.”
The I-Team confirmed over the past six years of these land acquisitions – there were no clear reporting structures from sensitive bases to federal agencies responsible for investigating land purchases near military bases.
Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA08) is working to change that with new language in the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA that would streamline communication so the proper authorities can review these cases. The I-Team confirmed these additions to the NDAA would not directly require ownership to identify itself while purchasing assets near military bases, but would ensure these types of transactions are reported to the FBI and CIFUS to be investigated.
Officials became skeptical over such purchases due to several reported instances of China acquiring farmlands with suspected intentions to surveil US military bases.
Last year, Chinese firm Fufeng Group paid $2.6 million for 300 acres of farmland in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The parcel of land’s location near a US Air Force base that houses sensitive drone technology has lawmakers on Capitol Hill worried about potential espionage by Beijing.
The Fufeng Group also purchased a corn mill near Grand Forks. Local citizens are rightly concerned with this new project in their backyard.
The Gateway Pundit reported that starting in 2015, a Chinese real estate development company called China Oceanwide Holdings began buying land on Oahu in the Hawaii Islands just ten miles west of the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.
The stated intent of the land purchases was to build a luxury hotel and homes, but nothing was ever built, even though China Oceanwide had accumulated land worth over 500 million dollars in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor.
CNN also reported that China had placed Huawei equipment atop cell towers on purchased farmland near US military bases in the Midwest, capable of disrupting service and capturing signals.
“Among the most alarming things the FBI uncovered pertains to Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cell towers near US military bases in the rural Midwest. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the FBI determined the equipment was capable of capturing and disrupting highly restricted Defense Department communications, including those used by US Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons,” the outlet reported.