Federal agents said they confiscated $1 million cash, 14 firearms and a large assortment of vehicles from an illegal alien who ran a highly profitable framing and roofing company.
Juan Antonio Perez, owner of Aztec Framing, had five different homes, including a luxurious compound at Rydal, Ga.
One of his residences was in Hixson and he had a business office in Rossville.
Perez was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Tuesday. He was charged with harboring illegal aliens and possessing firearms while being an illegal alien himself.
BJay Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said at a news conference in Cartersville, Ga., on Wednesday morning that Perez used illegal aliens in his business and paid them low wages. He said he provided them no benefits and never paid any payroll taxes or Social Security.
He said the way he ran the operation put Perez at a competitive advantage over legitimate business operators.
U.S. Attorney Pak said, "We are going to be very aggressive to make sure that the playing field is level for everyone."
Officials at the press conference were surrounded by vehicles confiscated from Perez said to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Agents said a five-year investigation led to the arrest.
The firearms included eight pistols, a rifle and five shotguns.
U.S. Attorney Pak said Perez, since he is not a U.S. citizen, could not buy vehicles, guns or property in his own name, but got others to do so for him.
He and his wife, Eva Torres, came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1992 and Perez started Aztec Framing in 2009, it was stated.
U.S. Attorney Pak also said, “Perez not only broke the law by allegedly hiring illegal aliens at below-market wages and paying no taxes, he had a large assortment of weapons including shotguns and pistols that he had acquired through various means other than buying them himself. Illegal aliens, such as Perez, are not allowed to own firearms at all. We will get to the bottom of how he acquired them."
“Individuals, like Mr. Perez, who flagrantly violate federal law to give themselves an unfair business advantage are cheating both law-abiding employers and employees exploited by these unfair and illegal labor practices,” said Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Nick S. Annan. “This case is an illustration of serious threats to public safety on numerous levels. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to focus not only on workers who violate federal law but also their employers.”
Officials said Perez built his family a 7,500-square-foot house, bought other houses where he allowed some of his employees to live, and purchased more than 50 sports cars and heavily customized trucks. Yet, as of April 2019, the Georgia Department of Labor had no record of Perez reporting any income.