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Judge Orders Back 11 Deported Hondurans

June 14, 2006

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A federal judge ordered the government to find 11 Hondurans it deported last year and bring them back to testify in a human trafficking trial.

U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano said Tuesday that Luisa Medrano’s rights to a fair trial were violated by the deportations, which included people who claim to have evidence that she is innocent.

``Ultimately, if the trial of the indictment is a search for the truth, then I believe we need to have all of the witnesses available,″ Pisano said.

The judge did not say who would pay for the search, or what might happen if the Hondurans can’t be located.

In January 2005, federal agents raided two apartments owned by Medrano, of Cliffside Park.

Eleven of the illegal immigrants arrested in the raids told investigators that Medrano did not arrange their smuggling and that the women voluntarily lived and worked together. They were then deported.

Ten others, including girls as young as 14, were declared to be victims of human trafficking and given special visas to remain. They told investigators Medrano lured them to the U.S. with the promise of waitress jobs but forced them to live together and work as hostesses six days a week at her bars until they repaid thousands of dollars in smuggling fees.

Medrano was charged with running a human trafficking ring, and is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 18. Pisano said the testimony of the 11 people deported might help her defense.

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