In early 2007, citizens of tiny Potrero — 45 minutes from downtown San Diego and 8 minutes from Tecate — rebelled. A mercenary firm, Blackwater USA, wanted to build an 824-acre training facility three miles from the hamlet of fewer than 1000 residents. Well over half of Potrero's 435 registered voters protested vigorously. The county backed Blackwater.
Potrero won. In March of 2008, Blackwater abandoned its Potrero plans.
The New York Times is now reporting that just weeks before Blackwater guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007, the State Department began investigating the $1 billion contract that the mercenary firm had to protect American diplomats.
A State Department investigator wrote a scathing report about Blackwater's activities. The investigation was jettisoned after Blackwater's top head in Iraq said "he could kill" the investigator "and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq," according to State Department reports.
Whew! The people of Potrero may have sensed how Blackwater would disturb its tranquility. The company has since gone through several permutations and name changes, and is now a part of Constellis Holdings.