WASHINGTON – An international manhunt has ended
with the capture of Jorge Torres-Puello aka Jorge Torres Orellana. After a
coordinated effort between the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and multiple law enforcement
agencies in the United States and overseas, Torres-Puello was located in
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and arrested without incident by local
authorities there Thursday at 8 p.m.
Torres-Puello is wanted in El Salvador for
crimes against children, sexual exploitation of minors for pornography and
prostitution, organized crime and human trafficking. In the United States,
he is wanted in Vermont on alien smuggling offenses and in Philadelphia for
probation violations for fraud. He is also wanted in Canada. Before and
after his previous arrests in the United States and Canada, Torres-Puello
assumed several fraudulent identities and was known by several aliases.
“The location and arrest of this fugitive, wanted by three countries on some
of the most egregious charges that ICE investigates, is an example of
top-notch cooperation among law enforcement agencies in all these countries
and our colleagues at INTERPOL,” said John Morton, assistant secretary of
Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Hiding behind fake names or using phony identifications and passports will
not protect those who prey on the most vulnerable in our societies. Together
we will find you and bring you to justice.”
“The capture of Jorge Torres-Puello is an exceptional example of the
effective cooperation between law enforcement agencies across numerous
borders and jurisdictions,” said Director John F. Clark of the United States
Marshals Service. “When we all come together for a common purpose, the world
becomes a very small place for a fugitive to hide. I offer my sincere
thanks to our many international and domestic partners who played a part in
“This is a great example of how we work with our law enforcement partners to
pursue individuals who have fled to international jurisdictions after their
involvement in criminal activity and bring them to justice,” said INTERPOL
Washington Director Timothy Williams.
Torres-Puello’s downfall started just after Haitian authorities detained 10
U.S. missionaries and held them on kidnapping and abduction charges. Shortly
after their arrest, Torres-Puello contacted their church in Idaho and said
he was a legal authority on Haitian and Dominican law. He obtained monetary
retainer from the families of the missionaries and began representing
himself to the Haitian court and international media as the
attorney/spokesman for the detained Americans.
In February, law enforcement authorities in El Salvador were notified the
individual acting as the legal advisor to the U.S. missionaries bore a
strong resemblance to Jorge Torres Orellana, the man wanted by El
Salvadorian authorities. Authorities in El Salvador requested the assistance
of INTERPOL, and an INTERPOL Red Notice was issued to law enforcement
INTERPOL Washington, having previously been in communication with
authorities in El Salvador, immediately confirmed Jorge Torres Orellana was
in fact a fugitive from justice also wanted in Canada and the United States.
INTERPOL Washington served as the intermediary in coordinating efforts
between multiple agencies in the United States and overseas, resulting in
the apprehension of Torres-Puello.
ICE and the USMS International Investigations Branch spearheaded the
two-month long joint investigation along with law enforcement officials in
Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canada and El Salvador.
Continued efforts and participation from the Direccion Nacional de Control
de Drogas in the Dominican Republic along with the assistance of INTERPOL
Santo Domingo, D.R., proved to be essential assets in the investigation.
A combined effort by the agencies mentioned
above, along with the indispensable participation of the U.S. Department of
Justice Office of International Affairs; U.S. Department of State; U.S.
Attorney Offices in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of
Vermont; Dominican Republic Office of the Attorney General; and the Embassy
of the Dominican Republic in Washington, D.C. culminated in this arrest.
For more information about the U.S. Marshals
Service, visit http://www.usmarshals.gov.