Search warrant: Owner of Rossville business built wealthy lifestyle using illegal aliens
UPDATE (Wednesday morning):
ICE has provided NewsChannel 9 with the search warrant for the Northwest Georgia locations. Southern Region Communications Director Bryan D. Cox says in all agents served search warrants in six locations across north Georgia and eastern Tennessee.
Read the warrant below:
Depend on us to keep you posted as new developments come in.
UPDATE (Tuesday afternoon):
A North Georgia business has become the focus of a raid by federal immigration authorities.
Federal records say the owner of the Rossville business, along with his homes and other businesses are under investigation because he is suspected of employing nearly 200 illegal aliens, and profiting off of their low pay.
According to the documents, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials filed a request on April 24 for a search warrant of Aztec Framing on LaFayette Road.
The documents claim Aztec's owner, Juan Antonio Perez, and his wife Eva Torres are natives & citizens of Mexico, and have been in the country illegally for many years, and have built a successful construction business with three locations - Rossville, Cartersville, and in Hixson.
The documents say that investigators found that one reason for Aztec's business profitability "is that Perez and his subcontractors employ illegal aliens for whom no payroll taxes are withheld and who receive no insurance or other benefits."
Officials said Perez's home, business offices and other properties contained evidence of violating federal laws "including alien harboring for commercial advantage and private financial gain."
The documents also say that Perez built a 'compound-like' home for his family in a remote location in rural Rydal in Bartow County so it could only be seen by helicopter. In the documents, officials describe the house as surrounded by high walls, and workers with access to the grounds told them armed guards patrol inside the wall.
The documents say Perez also has a home in Kingston, Georgia that he reportedly calls his 'fun house' or 'toy house', where he stores vehicles and other expensive 'toys' and spends time with women other than his wife.
Bobby Simmons works right next to the Aztec Framing location on LaFayette Road. He says Perez always seemed like a nice guy, but he always wondered about those classic cars.
Court documents may provide a clue. They say Perez "used his wealth to indulge his taste for expensive vehicles, ranging from expensive, limited-edition Ford Raptor pickup trucks to classic muscle cars to contemporary sports cars, including Porsches and a Nissan GTR." Officials go on to say "Perez owns dozens of such vehicles, all of which are registered in other peoples' names."
"He told us before he had employees scattered all over the United States, so we figured it was legit. They seemed like very nice people," says Simmons.
Perez's other properties are under investigation for harboring illegal immigrants for commercial advantage and private financial gain.
The GBI says they did assist in a raid at the Cartersville location as well.
You can read the court documents below:
This is a developing story - depend on us to update our story as we learn more.
PREVIOUSLY (Tuesday morning):
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) raided Aztec Framing in Rossville Tuesday morning.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Southern Region Communications Director Bryan D. Cox tells NewsChannel 9 that HSI is leading an ongoing federal criminal investigation. Cox also confirms the Bartow County Sheriff's Department is also on the scene.
We have a crew on the scene working to learn more information about the reason for the raid at the company's office on Lafayette Road.
Agents were seen removing material from the business and putting it in boxes, and then in vans.
Nearby businesses say the raid was unexpected.
Aztec Framing has three locations, the others being in Hixson and one in Cartersville, Georgia.
The Better Business Bureau's website does not show them as an accredited business, and the BBB gives them an "F" rating for failure to have a required competency license.
We are working to learn more information about this story, and will update you as soon as we get new information.