Southern Religion

Baptist missionaries’ legal adviser has trafficking issues


A man offering legal advice to most of the 10 Baptists, Jorge Puello, “may have a string of legal charges against him in the United States as well as a warrant for his arrest in El Salvador for sex trafficking, records show.” The New York Times reported Saturday:

The man, Jorge Puello, was brought into the case from the Dominican Republic as a lawyer to help the 10 Americans arrested last month for trying to remove 33 children from the country after the earthquake without government permission.

A Web site that was abruptly taken down on Friday described Mr. Puello and his cousin, Alejandro Puello, as law partners.

. . .

Salvadoran police say they want to question Mr. Puello in connection with a sex trafficking ring that was broken up last year in which women and girls from Central America and the Caribbean were lured into prostitution through offers of modeling jobs. The suspect police are seeking is named Jorge Anibal Torres Puello, which Mr. Puello said was not his full name.

. . .

Public records and court documents in the United States also indicate that a person with the same name and birth date is considered a fugitive and is wanted by the Miami police, the United States Customs and the United States Marshals Service. The name and birth date are also the same as the man being pursued by the police in El Salvador and for whom Interpol has transmitted an arrest warrant.

An order is listed in the United States national crime database for a man with that name and birth date to be arrested on sight and reported to United States immigration officials. Those records say he is wanted in connection with crimes including bank fraud in the United States and Canada, and theft of American government property. Police records say he has violated parole.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday:

Salvadoran police say photos that surfaced Friday show the legal advisor to American missionaries jailed in Haiti may be the lead suspect in a human trafficking ring involving child prostitution in El Salvador.

Police say they are waiting for fingerprints to determine if Jorge Anibal Torres Puello is also wanted in El Salvador on charges of promoting prostitution among children in what has been one of the nation’s most vexing social problems

The Idaho Statesman reported:

While investigators in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Florida look into Jorge Puello’s past, the families and representatives of several of the 10 jailed Americans he has been working for say they don’t know how he became their advocate in the ordeal.

Puello, is suspected of leading a trafficking ring involving Central American and Caribbean women and girls, and says it is a case of mistaken identity. The New York Times reported Friday:

When the judge presiding over the Haitian case learned on Thursday of the investigation in El Salvador, he said he would begin his own inquiry of the adviser, a Dominican man who was in the judge’s chambers days before.

The judge in the case has recommended release of the 10 Americans, but that does not settle the issue. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

The judge’s opinion still will be reviewed by prosecutors in the case. The prosecutors’ decision could take up to five days to be issued, Haitian judicial officials said.


February 12, 2010 - Posted by | SBC | , , ,

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