Originally begun in 1954 as a private investigation company in Boca Raton, Florida, founded by four former FBI agents, including George Wackenhut. In 1958, Wackenhut bought out his partners and formed the Wackenhut Corporation, which focused on building dossiers of civil rights demonstrators, anti-war protesters and others on the left politically. The Wackenhut files included the corporation's investigation of the NAACP, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., The Progressive magazine, and numerous others active in the peace and justice movements. By the time Congress began investigating government and corporate entities that kept dossiers on Americans in the mid-1970s, Wackenhut reportedly had four million names on file, more than any other private entity.
Even after those investigations, Wackenhut continued to monitor Americans and in 1991 was investigated by Congress for spying on Americans for a consortium of oil companies; the investigation focused on Wackenhut's secret operations against former oil broker Chuck Hamel, who had blown the whistle on the environmental damage in the Port of Valdez and from the TransAlaska pipeline. Wackenhut's operatives acknowledged the spying but claimed no federal or state laws were broken.
Aside from its spying business, Wackenhut Corporation also obtained contracts to provide private security to government buildings, such as Cape Canaveral and nuclear testing facilities. In 1964 he took the company public. The Wackenhut Corporation also received a contract from the state of Florida in the 1960s to help "fight" crime.
In 1984, Wackenhut formed a new division called "Wackenhut Corrections Corporation" (WCC) to seek contracts to run private prisons. Its first private prison contract appears to have been in 1987 with the Reagan Administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (a federal agency that was subsequently reorganized to become part of the Department of Homeland Security and its enforcement operations were renamed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE]). Wackenhut also pursued contracts for juvenile detention facilities.
In 1988, Wackenhut incorporated WCC as a subsidiary and took it public in 1994. In 2003, WCC purchased all the company's stock and changed its name to the GEO Group. In 2004, the other parts of the Wackenhut Corporation were purchased by Group 4 Falck which became G4S Wackenhut and ultimately became known as G4S Secure Solutions, which focused on security contracts.