Alleged Illegal Immigrant Pleads Guilty To Employing And Exploiting Undocumented Migrants In The US


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A man who allegedly illegally entered the U.S. in 1992 plead guilty to employing and exploiting undocumented migrants in the U.S., the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Juan Antonio Perez, 48, pleaded guilty Wednesday to persuading migrants to illegally enter the U.S. and to work for him at below-market rates and without benefits, insurance or Social Security, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Perez allegedly illegally entered the U.S. in 1992 and has operated Aztec Framing since at least 2009 while living in Bartow County, Georgia.

“The old saying that crime doesn’t pay couldn’t be truer than in this instance. Perez thought his scheme to exploit desperate people looking for work and a better life would go unnoticed, but he was wrong and will now be held accountable,” Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger said in a statement.

“Preventing the exploitation of people and protecting the integrity of the US immigration system are hallmarks of HSI’s (Homeland Security Investigations) mission and I’m proud of the work done in this case,” Berger added.

FIRST LOOK: this is the mugshot connected to Juan Antonio Perez, the owner of Aztec Framing, the subject of federal ICE raids in six locations in N Georgia and Hixson. pic.twitter.com/r8fjDiaWMU

— Latricia Thomas (@LatriciaTnc9) May 1, 2019

Perez built a 7,500 square foot house and purchased other properties where he allowed some of the illegal migrants working for him to stay, according to the DOJ. He bought himself more than 30 sports cars and several customized trucks for his personal use, however, the Georgia Department of Labor doesn’t have any records of Perez’s reported income.

“Perez endangered the livelihood of those who follow the laws governing employment, as well as the lives of those who attempt to illegally enter the United States seeking jobs like those he provided,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said in a statement. “Perez used illegal workers for his own personal financial gain without regard for the laws of this country.” (RELATED: Man Accused Of Harboring Around 50 Illegal Migrants Who Almost Died In A U-Haul Will Remain In Jail Until Trial)

Perez’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5 and several federal agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI and Customs and Border Protection are working on an investigation into Perez’s crimes, according to the DOJ.

ICE raided six of Perez’s residences and businesses in April 2019 after officials suspected he was employing and exploiting around 200 illegal migrants, an ABC affiliate reported. Federal documents said Perez and his wife were Mexican citizens illegally present in the U.S. who constructed a “compound-like” residence in rural Georgia reportedly patrolled by armed guards.

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