Haitian Legal Advisor Extradited to U.S.; Faces Alleged Alien-Smuggling Charges

A man who provided legal advice to 10 U.S. Baptists accused of kidnapping 33 Haitian children after January’s earthquake has been extradited from the Dominican Republic to the United States on alien-smuggling charges, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

Jorge Torres-Puello, also known as Jorge Torres Orellana, was arrested March 18 in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean nation recently ordered his extradition, and Torres-Puello was escorted Monday to Vermont, where he faces charges.

After Haitian authorities detained 10 U.S. missionaries this year on kidnapping and abduction charges, Torres-Puello contacted their church in Idaho, saying he was a legal authority on Haitian and Dominican law, the Marshals Service said.

Torres-Puello, also known as Orellana, and is apparently also wanted by El Salvadoran authorities for human trafficking charges. Torres-Puello has admitted that his is in fact Orellana, but denies the charges against him.

Torres-Puello is a Dominican who was born in New York, the Dominican Republic’s National Drug Control Agency said at the time of his arrest.

Torres-Puello faces charges in the United States of conspiracy to take foreigners into the country illegally.

In El Salvador, he and his wife, Ana Josefa Ramirez Orellana, face charges of presumed sexual exploitation of minors and women, the agency said. The drug agency claims Torres-Puello forced Nicaraguan and Dominican children to work as prostitutes in El Salvador.

Torres-Puello has denied those allegations.

In addition to Vermont, Torres-Puello is wanted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for probation violations for fraud, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said. He also is wanted in Canada.

The 10 U.S. Baptist missionaries were arrested January 29 as they attempted to cross the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic with 33 Haitian children. Haiti said the missionaries did not have legal paperwork for the youngsters and held them on child-trafficking charges.

The missionaries, known as the New Life Children’s Refuge, denied any wrong-doing, saying they had received permission to take the children to a Dominican orphanage.

Nine of the 10 missionaries were released later, but group leader Laura Silsby was detained until a trial in May. She was found guilty and sentenced to time served. She and the others have returned to the United States, most of them to Idaho.

The 7.0-magnitude January 12 earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people, injured about 300,000 and left 1 million people homeless, the Haitian government said.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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