Last week we posted about human trafficking allegations against Jorge Puello, the Dominican Republic citizen that was serving as legal advisor to the detained US citizens in Haiti. Mr. Puello was suspected of being connected with a known human trafficking ring in El Salvador, but further investigation was needed. Now, Mr. Puello has acknowledged that he does face charges of human trafficking in El Salvador and the United States, and that he has served time in jail in the United States and Canada for alien trafficking and handling money related to narcotics.
Currently Mr. Puello is wanted in at least 4 countries for charges of human trafficking, including sex trafficking of women and girls, making counterfeit documents, and violating parole. US, Salvadoran, Haitian, and Dominican Republic authorities have all issued arrest warrants for the man, but currently he remains at large.
Mr. Puello still states that he is innocent on all counts of human trafficking in El Salvador. His wife, Ana Josefa Galvarina Ramirez Orellana, was arrested in El Salvador after two Nicaraguan girls escaped from the house where Mrs. Orellana and another man had been keeping them. The girls state that they were promised jobs in El Salvador, and then kept in the house against their will. They also stated that they were photographed upon arrival.
CNN has created a video featuring Mr. Puello’s parents, in which they state they are unsure as to why their son chose to involve himself with the detained missionaries. Puello’s stepfather hypothesizes that it may have been an effort to prove to authorities that he is a changed man. Puello’s mother states that this situation is definitively not a case of mistaken identity, as Mr. Puello had orginially tried to assert.
Fortunately for the missionaries, Mr. Puello’s past does not seem to have influenced the judge deciding their fates. Today, 8 of the 10 members of the group were released and returned to the US. The other 2 members, one of whom is group leader Laura Silsby, are being held for further questioning.
For more on Jorge Puello’s criminal history and current charges see the following: