Federal agents raid businesses, homes in North Georgia immigration sting

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

State and federal agents on Tuesday raided several North Georgia homes and businesses belonging to a construction company owner accused of employing and housing undocumented immigrants to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Authorities said Juan Antonio Perez, the owner of Aztec Framing and Aztec Builders, made millions by underpaying the undocumented immigrants he employs and failing to withhold federal payroll and Social Security taxes.

In the raid, agents seized documents, high-priced vehicles and other property from homes and businesses in Cartersville, Rossville and Hixson, Tennessee.

Perez is accused by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of laundering money made illegally at the expense of his employees to support his lifestyle.

“This investigation has learned that one reason for Aztec’s 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,” a 22-page ICE affidavit reads. “He owns several other properties and has amassed a collection of expensive vehicles.”

Perez, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico illegally, paid friends who are U.S. citizens to put his utility bills and registered cars in their names.

Investigators said Perez and his family live in a “compound-like” Bartow County home complete with a tall wall and armed guards who patrol the property and 7,500-square-foot home valued at nearly $1 million.

Perez also allegedly owns a home in Kingston that he calls his “fun house or toy house, where he stores vehicles and other expensive ‘toys’ and spends time with women other than his wife,” according to his affidavit.

Agents allege that by paying undocumented immigrants at “below-market rates,” Perez has made a substantial amount of money over the years.

“Yet as of April 2019, the Georgia Department of Labor has no record of any income reported by Perez,” according to the affidavit.

ICE Agents arrested Perez during Tuesday’s raids, an agency spokesman confirmed, but it’s unclear where he is being held.

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