Port-au-Prince, Haiti - NY Times: Jewish Man Accused In Central America Trafficking Is U.S. Fugitive
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.
More of today's headlines“Jerusalem - Israel is joining the diplomatic action as the world approaches decision time in the face of Iran's nuclear threat - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...” Jerusalem - U.S. Military Chief Arriving in Israel To Disscuss Iran “Manhattan, NY - The police have arrested a man they said had about 40 jewels that were stolen two weeks ago during a robbery and fatal shooting at a store on the Upper...” Manhattan, NY - Arrest Made in Deadly $4M Madison Ave Jewelry Store Heist