YOU READ IT HERE FIRST:
An international human trafficking ring that stretches into China, Russia, the Netherlands and elsewhere was discovered after Port Authority police rescued two kidnapped men who yelled for help from an SUV headed to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee yesterday,
“Help me! Help me!” one of the undocumented immigrants shouted to an officer who’d briefly stopped the vehicle on the upper-level Route 95 approach to the tolls, the authority’s Joseph Pentangelo said.
The driver tried taking off but became stuck in morning rush-hour traffic, he said.
Luis A Moreno, Jr., a 26-year-old Honduran national from Elizabeth, was ordered held on $1 million in the Bergen County Jail, charged with two counts each of kidnapping and criminal restraint, as well as with receiving stolen property and driving with a suspended license.
The State Department is now looking into what role Moreno — who is on probation for aggravated assault and not supposed to leave Texas — has played in what law enforcement sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT is an international human trafficking network.
PAPD Police Officer Angela Tate stopped the SUV with a Texas license plate in the HOV lane just after 8 a.m. yesterday because Moreno “appeared to be the only person in the vehicle,” Pentangelo said.
The HOV lane requires three or more occupants for access.
“I have two passengers in the back,” Pentangelo said Moreno told Tate.
As he rolled down the rear driver’s side window, Tate could see the two men in the third row seating area.
As Moreno began to pull away, one of the men “hung out the now open window and began to yell to the officer for help,” Pentangelo said.
She told him to stop, he said, but Moreno kept driving before backup officers moved in and ordered the 5-foot-7-inch, 210-pound Moreno to shut off the car.
They found the rear door and window locking mechanisms of the silver 2002 Toyota SUV disabled, Pentangelo said.
The Guatemalan immigrant who shouted out the window told officers in Spanish that Moreno had picked him up in Texas, for a fee, “with the understanding that he would drive him to Maryland,” Pentangelo said.
Once they got there, he said, Moreno “demanded more money and locked the doors of the car, imprisoning him and not allowing him to leave.”
Moreno also took his cellphone to keep him from making calls, the victim told police.
The second man, a 24-year-old Asian, told U.S. Department of State personnel that he, too, was being held against his will, Pentangelo said.
PHOTOS: Courtesy PORT AUTHORITY PD
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.