Three people were charged Wednesday with conspiring to smuggle, kidnap and extort Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin when they brought him from Cuba to the United States, reports the Miami Herald's Jay Weaver.
The three people charged by the U.S. attorney's office in Miami on Wednesday — Eliezer Lazo, 40, Joel Martinez Hernandez, 37, and Yilian Hernandez, 30— are also charged with smuggling 13 other Cuban baseball prospects into the United States. Lazo and Martinez are currently serving prison time for money laundering.
In 2012, Estrellas del Beisbol, a company Lazo and Martinez have a stake in, sued Martin, claiming it was his management company and that he had failed to pay it. Martin countersued, alleging that he and his family were held “hostage” by the smugglers until Martin could pay for their release with money from a major league contract.
Martin signed a $15.5 million contract with the Rangers in May 2011.
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Martin admits that while he was in the “involuntary custody of his kidnappers,” specifically naming Lazo and Martinez, he was provided with food, clothing and shelter as well as “intermittent opportunities to practice baseball.” He also said his family was provided similar support.
But Martin claims Estrellas’ operators held him “against his will” in Mexico while his family “remained hostages” at Lazo’s home in Miami-Dade.