A top secret government raid has put dozens of South Plains residents out of a job - part of an investigation that goes all the way to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
There are more questions than answers, but KCBD NewsChannel 11 has launched an in-depth investigation into a Lubbock-based biofuel company and the man running the mysterious operation.
KCBD has contacted everyone from the Environmental Protection Agency to the FBI. No government agencies are talking, but an official with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Dallas has confirmed they are investigating Absolute Fuels in the 2500 Block of 74th Street in Lubbock. The official says the documents are sealed and they will not release any information.
The Secretary of State's office says Absolute Fuels is run by a man named Jeff Gunselman. Documents list him as the CEO and Operating Manager of Absolute Fuels and an affiliated company called Absolute Milling, LLC.
According to Lubbock appraisal records, Gunselman lives in a home owned by Absolute Fuels in the 8100 Block of Toledo in Lubbock. KCBD visited the home, but no one came to the door. Neighbors say they saw federal agents with guns raiding the home on Oct. 17.
A criminal background search of Gunselman found nothing more than traffic violations.
Absolute Fuels has three additional locations across the state of Texas. One is outside of Littlefield, another in Nazareth, and a third in the town of Gonzales.
Appraisal records show Absolute Fuels and Absolute Milling, LLC own at least seven other properties in Lubbock, including an old gas station in the 3800 block of Idalou Road, a former construction facility in the 3300 block of 101st street, and a truck leasing facility in the 4400 block of Clovis. All of those locations are now closed for business.
A search of federal aviation records show Absolute Fuels owns a private plane. It's a 1984 Gulfstream Turbojet. Flight records uncovered by KCBD show the most recent travel on the plane was on Oct. 2 - a flight that went from Dulles International Airport in Washington DC to San Antonio International Airport. Flight records show the plane made several other trips over the past four months, including one to Ireland and another to Las Vegas. The records do not say who was on board.
Investigators aren't saying what - if any - role Gunselman has in the federal raid. However, KCBD found one person willing to talk - an employee who was present during the raid on the Littlefield facility. The employee has asked to have his identity concealed, because he still has hope that Absolute Fuels can remain open and preserve the job he desperately needs.
The employee, who KCBD has identified as "John" says he was working at the Littlefield facility when agents stormed the property with guns.
"They immediately told me to take my hands out of my pockets and turn around. They searched me; they frisked me, and they said there was a search warrant, a seizure," John said.
John says agents wouldn't say what they were there for. He and his coworkers were sent home with no answers and no paycheck.
"I'm going to be put out here in a couple of weeks if they don't release the wages of the employees. I'm going to lose everything," John said.
John says he has tried to file for unemployment, but because Absolute Fuels' corporate offices are shut down, he can't access the documentation he needs - like pay stubs and employment records.
"Our bills and our life do not stop," John said, "(I pay) rent. I pay $550 a month - a $250 car note. I have a lawyer retained at $200 a month."
John's biggest concern is his son. He is afraid he won't be able to continue paying child support and could lose custody.
"I don't have my son on the regular, he's with his mom. I get him every other weekend or so, so when I'm not able to provide for him, I have a real problem with that," John said.
John estimates there are at least 55 other employees in his same predicament. He says no one is receiving any answers or help in their situation.
A visit to Absolute Fuels' website shows the site is completely locked down, just like the corporate offices and facilities across the state. The empty buildings leave few answers and a laundry list of questions about what went down and why.
Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11