- The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 1, 2022

An illegal immigrant has been convicted of murder conspiracy for killing a man who had blown the whistle on his own hiring of illegal immigrants to work for a tree-cutting company in Georgia.

A jury also convicted Juan Rangel-Rubio, a Mexican, of conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and money laundering conspiracy.

Rangel-Rubio and his brother Pablo, also an illegal immigrant, hired fellow illegal immigrants to work for Wolf Tree, a tree-cutting business. The brothers routed payments for the illegal workers to their own accounts, skimming more than $3.5 million off the top, prosecutors said.

When another company employee, Eliud Montoya, a naturalized U.S. citizen, saw the workers’ mistreatment and unauthorized work status, he complained to Wolf Tree and to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017.

Investigators said he told the EEOC that the brothers were in the U.S. illegally, oversaw the company’s tree work, skimmed payments and had illegal immigrants drive work trucks without licenses. Accidents in the work trucks were also hushed up because the migrants were illegal immigrants, investigators said.

Pablo Rangel-Rubio then set up the murder, with Juan Rangel-Rubio shooting the whistleblower and another illegal immigrant, Higinio Perez-Bravo, serving as getaway driver.

They both pleaded guilty and await sentencing, along with Juan Rangel-Rubio, who was convicted at trial.

“This jury verdict brings resounding resolution to any doubts about the culpability of these defendants in this horrific conspiracy to kill a man who threatened their illegal and lucrative labor-trafficking scheme,” said David H. Estes, the U.S. attorney in southern Georgia.

Investigators said the brothers wanted to silence Mr. Montoya so he couldn’t testify in any EEOC probe.

Investigators said Pablo Rangel-Rubio had been running the scam on fellow illegal immigrants as far back as 2004.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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