Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Haitian Judge Rules 8 of 10 Americans Can Return To US; Former Adviser Sought In Multinational Sex Trafficking Case

The curious case of the 10 American missionaries who were caught trying to bring 33 Haitian kids into the Dominican Republic continues today with a finding by a Haitian judge that eight of 10 can return to the United States.
Laura Silsby, the leader of the group, and Charisa Coulter, were being kept for further investigation, said investigating Judge Bernard Saint-Vil. He said those released would be allowed to return home without posting bail if they agreed to return to Haiti for any more questions in the pending investigation.

"They will not have to post bail," the judge said. "But they will have to come back at the request of the court."

Earlier Wednesday, Coulter, who is diabetic, was taken to a field hospital. She briefly received treatment but was then taken back to jail. Neither her condition nor reason for the treatment was not immediately known.
Multiple reports seem to indicate that the other members of this group didn't know or realize that the proper papers were never obtained by Silsby's group. It makes sense to send the rest home given that Haiti's infrastructure is so badly damaged in the wake of the earthquake, but keeping those that knew, or had reason to know, of the lack of paperwork and who were in charge of this operation, makes sense.

Silsby is a shady character, but it now appears that her group's one-time legal adviser is himself a shady character, and he never actually had a law degree. Jorge Puello's background includes a conviction for bank fraud in Philadelphia, and now faces sex-trafficking charges in four countries.
Mr. Puello is wanted by the police in at least four countries in connection with charges including sex trafficking of girls and women, and making counterfeit documents and violating parole.

The Salvadoran police unveiled a sex trafficking ring last May in which they said Mr. Puello was helping to bring women and girls from Central America and the Caribbean into El Salvador and luring them into prostitution through offers of modeling and office jobs. Nude and semi-nude photographs were taken of women and girls and put on Internet sites, the police said.

The case against Mr. Puello broke open when three under-age Nicaraguan girls escaped from a house where they said they had been held captive for up to ten days by Mr. Puello’s wife, Ana Josefa Galvarina Ramirez Orellana, and another man, according to Jorge Callejas, head of the Salvadoran border police.

The girls had been recruited in Nicaragua by a Nicaraguan man who offered them jobs. Upon arriving in El Salvador, they complained that they were photographed and not allowed to leave the house.
He managed to insert himself into the human trafficking case in Haiti and several members that were arrested accepted Puello's assistance, but later tried to distance themselves from him.

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