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Port-au-Prince, Haiti - NY Times: Jewish Man Accused In Central America Trafficking Is U.S. Fugitive

Published on: February 13, 2010 07:46 PM
By:  NY Times
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Jorge Puello, left, arrives at the court building in Port-au-Prince.Jorge Puello, left, arrives at the court building in Port-au-Prince.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - The man who was providing legal advice to the American church members arrested in Haiti 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 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.

But Mr. Puello is not registered as a lawyer in the Dominican Republic, and Alejandro Puello said in an interview on Saturday that Jorge had no law degree, did not work with him and was now missing.


Exactly how Mr. Puello got involved in the case remains unclear. He said he had been hired as a lawyer by the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, which five of the Americans attended. A lawyer for one of the 10 said Mr. Puello never represented his client.

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.

But Mr. Puello, who has denied any wrongdoing, said in an interview on Thursday that he was the president of an organization called the Sephardic Jewish Community in the Dominican Republic. Public records in the Dominican Republic indicate that on Nov. 1, 2007, that organization was registered to Jorge Anibal Torres Puello.

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.

When asked in an interview on Thursday to explain whether he was tied to the sex trafficking ring, Mr. Puello was silent at first and then became enraged.

“I don’t have to answer any questions from you people,” he said.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal is reporting  that Isaac Rudman, the president of the Israelite Center of the Dominican Republic, said he once met Mr. Puello two or three years back. At the time, Mr. Puello introduced himself as Jorge Torres, and had a letter of introduction from a synagogue in Canada, Mr. Rudman said.

Mr. Rudman said he heard over the years that Mr. Puello had grandiose plans to build a hospital and a Jewish city close to Santo Domingo’s airport, but nothing came from these plans.

Mr. Rudman’s impression from his one meeting with Mr. Puello was that he was very “conflictive,” he said. “His attitude was ‘the Messiah has arrived’” said Mr. Rudman.

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Read Comments (17)  —  Post Yours »


 Feb 13, 2010 at 07:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Unless he escapes to Israel, I think there is good chance that the U.S. gov will have him caught with the help of Central American partners, especially after the media has more exposure on him.


 Feb 13, 2010 at 08:17 PM Chaim from Monsey Says:

Bet he's already in Israel and will never be found.


 Feb 13, 2010 at 08:57 PM Englisher Yid Says:

This slanderous story was picked up by Baroness Tonge, a notoriously anti-Semitic member of Britain's House of Lords (the upper chamber of Parliament) who sits for the Liberal Democratic party.

Nick Clegg MP, the party leader, im,mediately fired her. Hopefully the "noble" baroness will now keep her big trap firmly shut.


 Feb 13, 2010 at 09:48 PM Anonymous Says:

a busha a shanda a chillul hashem


 Feb 13, 2010 at 10:12 PM What a year... Says:

Madoff, Dwek, Puello...

Rachmono Litzlan!

What has become of us?


 Feb 13, 2010 at 11:38 PM Anonymous Says:

who besides himself says he's jewish?


 Feb 13, 2010 at 11:52 PM got it Says:

Reply to #5  
What a year... Says:

Madoff, Dwek, Puello...

Rachmono Litzlan!

What has become of us?

You forgot Tropper.


 Feb 14, 2010 at 12:28 AM Asher Yatzar Says:

These people make me sick. What has become of us?


 Feb 14, 2010 at 04:32 AM Anonymous Says:

I couldn't believe it, when I saw his big yarmulka, when watching it on CNN, while I was in a hotel room, overseas.


 Feb 14, 2010 at 10:58 AM Anonymous Says:

Obvously this man is criminally insane. The Jewish angle helps him advance his con artist frauds.


 Feb 14, 2010 at 12:01 PM Anonymous Says:

thanks #6 its about someone has a head on there shoulders


 Feb 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

who besides himself says he's jewish?

I agree. While there are crypto-Jews scattered throughout Latin America waiting for Moshiach to gather them, some interesting characters have climbed upon the Jewish bandwagon in the region. Some are spiritual seekers who start weird cults based on out of context quotes from the Torah and yes, others are plain con men. This is one of the latter.


 Feb 14, 2010 at 02:29 PM Anonymous Says:

#3, this story was "picked-up" by a world that cares about the disgusting shameful things some people do. And yes, they make me sick too. What has become of you??


 Feb 14, 2010 at 10:34 PM A Messianic "Jew" Says:

"His attitude was 'the Messiah has arrived'" said Mr. Rudman.

If so, maybe mitzvos b'talos l'osid lovo (mitzvos are obsolete at the future time)...


 Feb 15, 2010 at 11:32 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

who besides himself says he's jewish?

How many Goy would claim to be Jews? Seriously?


 Feb 15, 2010 at 11:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

who besides himself says he's jewish?

Wow, these posts are the polar opposite of when the story first broke and the posters praised him.


 Feb 15, 2010 at 11:29 PM Yoram Says:

I am not affraid to answer this one my own.

Number 1. I have never commited the crimes that are been charge against me, I AM INOCENT, I will prove all of you wrong Be'ezrat Hashem.

Number 2. The media did not mentioned that I risk my life to save a human being by taking inportant medicine to Chorisa Coultler who was very ill while you guys where just reading all this lashon harah in the confort of your own homes.

Number 3. Instead of making all this crazy claims you should allways ahava yisrael not become anti semites just as the goys. Remember the story of Kamza and Bar-Kamza.

Number 4. It is east to be a yid and hope that some mitzvot just fall in your hands from Shamaim, I look for my mitzvots, at the end it is to Hashem that I have to answer.

Number 5. I forgive you and love you even if you don't understand my actions, when you get to know the truth i hope to be next to you on Yom Kipper to forgive you of the wrong that you are doing to me today.

Yoram (Jorge Puello) sephardicjews@gmail.com


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