SAVANNAH -- Three men, all illegal alien residents of the United States, have been indicted for plotting the murder of a whistleblower who exposed a scheme to fraudulently employ other illegals.
Brothers Pablo Rangel-Rubio, 49, and Juan Rangel-Rubio, 42, both residents of Rincon, and Higinio Perez-Bravo, 49, of Savannah, were charged in a federal indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Savannah, announced Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine.
Pablo Rangel-Rubio and Juan Rangel-Rubio are charged with Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Witness; Conspiracy to Kill a Witness; Conspiracy to Conceal, Harbor and Shield Illegal Aliens; and Money Laundering Conspiracy. Pablo Rangel-Rubio and Perez-Bravo are charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder for Hire. Pablo Rangel-Rubio also is charged with three counts of Money Laundering Transactions Over $10,000.
The investigation began with the Aug. 19, 2017, death of Eliud Montoya, 41, who was found shot to death near his home in Garden City. Two days before his death, Montoya, a naturalized United States citizen employed by a Savannah-area tree service, had filed a formal complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Pablo Rubio-Rangel ran a scheme to employ illegal aliens at the tree service, profiting from the company while also skimming pay from the illegal workers. Four months earlier, Montoya also had reported the scheme to company officials.
According to the indictment, authorities allege Pablo Rubio-Rangel paid Perez-Bravo to assist Juan Rubio-Rangel in killing Montoya in retaliation for reporting the conspiracy that is believed to have netted the brothers more than $3.5 million during the approximate 10-year period of the scheme.
“Eliud Montoya was a naturalized citizen of the United States who worked hard and raised a family,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “He went to the proper authorities to report a federal crime and for that he was murdered. Our office is committed to ensuring justice for Eliud Montoya, a man killed for doing the right thing, by those intent on protecting their illegal profits.”
The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI, the United States Marshals Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Garden City Police Department, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.
“As Homeland Security Investigations has stated repeatedly – HSI equally focuses its worksite enforcement efforts on those who illegally work in the U.S., as well as the employers who knowingly hire them,” said HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan. “This case is an extreme, but clear, example of how far certain criminals seeking to illegally exploit the U.S. labor market will go to protect their ill-gotten gains, and illustrates why worksite enforcement will continue to be a major priority for HSI.”
“The FBI is proud to have assisted our fellow federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in making these important arrests,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Citizens who uphold the law and report criminal activity should never have to be afraid of retaliation from those intent on breaking the law.
A criminal indictment contains only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.