UPDATE: Rossville business owner indicted following the seizure of millions in assets
UPDATE: Wednesday in a press conference held by Homeland Security at the Bartow County Sheriff's Office, they showed off the cars, and weapons seized in raids at five of Juan Perez's properties.
Homeland Security confiscated millions of dollars of assets when they arrested Perez, the owner of Aztec Framing. Perez, an illegal immigrant himself, was indicted Wednesday on harboring illegal aliens for financial gain and money laundering.
Investigators said that Perez was able to gain wealth by not paying any federal income taxes and underpaying immigrants, instead using the money on homes, cars and guns.
The white Denali truck confiscated is worth over $700,000, and that's only one of the cars seized.
"There was invoices for it," Special Agent in Charge Nick Annan said. "So he paid $74,000 for the vehicle, and then he put $692,000 in upgrades."
Annan with Homeland Security said it's an example of how comfortable Perez was in owning and operating an illegal business.
"You kind of look at them and watch it and think, 'Oh you think we're not watching you?" Annan said. "He knew that they were illegal. He knew that he was underpaying them, that he wasn't giving them any benefits. He knew [he] wasn't giving them justice if you will, and he was profiting from it."
Which Annan said made the case unique.
"I think this case is unique in the vehicles that he purchased. There are a lot of individuals involved in similar activity who are making as much or more money, not all of them buy $3 or $4 million dollars in vehicles," Annan explained.
Investigators said it wasn't just those working for him that Perez was taking advantage of.
"I think when you cheat the system, the whole system suffers and when people are doing it legitimately and following the law, they should be able to play on a pair playing field," US District Attorney "BJay" Pak said.
Pak feels confident in the case against Perez.
"After he serves his sentence, he will be processed for deportation," Pak said.
Pak said additional charges could come in the future.
"We're going to make a determination based on all the evidence, on additional charges, or additional defendants will be brought and we will seek a superseding indictment if the evidence is justified," Pak said.
As for the cars Perez collected, they will go to the auction block if Perez is convicted.
"They're the ill-gotten gains in the fruit of a crime. Generally, what happens there will be procedures to forfeit the assets and they will be sold in an auction by US Marshalls," Pak said.
The proceeds from the sale could go back to law enforcement, some goes back to the treasury and some goes back to reimburse local law enforcement.
PREVIOUS STORY: A Rossville business owner has been indicted by a grand jury for alien harboring for financial gain and for being an illegal alien in possession of 14 firearms.
PREVIOUS STORY: The United States District Court of the Northern District of Georgia unsealed the 22-page affidavit detailing the luxurious life President of Aztec Framing, Juan Perez, was living.
Perez was arrested on multiple charges including knowingly harboring illegal immigrants for his commercial advantage and financial gain.
Tuesday, evidence of that life was towed away from the Rossville location of Aztec Framing as Homeland Security towed part of Perez's car collection away.
Federal agents point to Perez's multiple properties, bank accounts, and classic car collection, and "helpers" who worked for his company, Aztec Framing.
"The old saying is they grind slow but they grind fine. So they generally really get all the small details," said attorney McCracken Poston.
Court records show Perez and his wife Eva Torres came to the United States in 1990, illegally. He's accused of employing almost 200 illegal immigrants to build his own construction business and paying them below market wage, with no overtime or benefits, all to secure his own wealth.
Poston has no connection to the case but said the charges could spell trouble for Perez.
"From what has been alleged he has a lot of very nice expensive things, and with those come paper trails," said Perez.
Perez maintained five bank accounts and between June 2018 and January 2019, transactions totaled nearly $4.5 million dollars.
Court records show Perez owned at least a dozen cars, including a limited edition Ford Raptor, classic muscle cars, Porsches, and a Nissan GTR. All were registered under the names of his four "helpers" who are in the United States Legally.
One of the helpers stated, "They knew it was against the law for them to purchase and register vehicles for Perez, but they did so because of their friendship."
He also said that he owned a house, but had to sell it to Perez to pay the debt he generated running his restaurant.
Perez also owns multiple properties, one known as his "fun house" or "toy house" where he stores vehicles and "spends time with women other than his wife."
He also owns an additional property in Bartow County that is described as a "compound." The special agent said they had to use a helicopter for surveillance, and people that had access to the house said they had armed guards patrolling the inside wall.
"Likelihood this won't end well for Mr. Perez because again there just seems to be a very thorough investigation," said Poston.
Poston said deportation will be the most-likely outcome for Perez in this situation. It's not clear what next steps are for the people who worked for him.
Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.
PREVIOUS STORY: Agents from ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were at a Rossville address Tuesday in what is described as an 'ongoing federal investigation.'
Details are few at this time, but Channel 3 has confirmed the investigation is being led by the HSI, and that the Bartow County Sheriff’s Department is also taking part.
Agents were seen bring out a large number of boxes from Aztec Framing, located on Lafayette Road in Rossville. There are several businesses in the region with the same name.
Several vehicles, including some restored, collectible cars, were loaded onto flatbed trucks and tow trucks before being taken away from the scene of the investigation.
Agents also loaded a number of document boxes into SUVs during the course of Tuesday's investigation.