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South Texas landowner accuses government of taking property through eminent domain

When the government offered to buy part of their ranch, The Cantu family thought they would act in good faith. Now, they say Border Patrol has gone back on the deal.

FREER, Texas — A South Texas landowner and his family in Freer own a 648-acre ranch that they had decided to sell. But what began as simple negotiations turned into a nightmare.

When the government offered to buy part of their ranch, The Cantu family thought they would act in good faith. But now, they say the Border Patrol, who is now developing the property, have gone back on the original deal.

Allison and Jacob Cantu have been married for six years and have two children. They want to build a new home, so they were willing to sell 30 acres of their property to the Border Patrol under certain conditions that everyone had agreed on.

"I asked them what's going to be on the property, first of all, and all they said was that there would be offices, place to park their trucks, and things like that. I asked, 'Is there going to be a gun range?' and they said, 'No'. I asked, 'A helipad?' and they said 'No,' and then, come to find out several months later, all of that actually is going to be on my property," said Jacob Cantu.

On top of that, the government only wants to give him $67,000 for the 30 acres of his ranch to build its $33 million Border Control complex.

"We are out here daily on a Polaris. We're out here daily on a four wheeler, riding around and around," Allison Cantu said. "And I had a meeting with US attorney about the deal already and I told them 'what happens if one of the stray bullets hits my child or hits my husband?' and the attorney said straight up to me and told me 'you have to put a dollar value on that,'" Allison Cantu said.

Jacob revealed page after page of documents and letters that have been sent between himself and the federal government. One of those letters said that if he didn't agree to take the $67,000 offer, that his property would be condemned and any further negotiation for more money would have to be handled in court.

"For a public purpose, such as for a school, a street, a municipal building, or in this case, a federal facility of some sort, the government does have the right to take the land and has to pay fair market value," said Real Estate Attorney, John Bell

The Cantu Family plan to take their fight to court, but, as Bell says, the only thing that would come out of the lawsuit would be more money for the property.

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