Was Castro Regime Complicit in Human Trafficking Ring? 8

Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin

Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin

14-Plus Years For Cuban Ballplayer Smuggler

By Curt Anderson, AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI — The convicted ringleader of a smuggling organization that brought more than 1,000 Cubans into the U.S., some of them baseball players including Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin, was sentenced Monday to more than 14 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard rejected a request for leniency by Eliezer Lazo, whom she noted was paid $22,000 a month through the scheme — not counting the percentages of any professional baseball contracts the players signed. Prosecutors say Martin paid the Lazo group $1.2 million after signing with the Rangers in 2011.

“That’s a lot of money,” Lenard said.

Lazo, 41, will begin serving the sentence after finishing an unrelated five-year prison term for money laundering in a Medicare fraud case. In the smuggling case, he pleaded guilty in August to extortion conspiracy.

The Lazo organization smuggled Cubans by boat to Mexico for $10,000 each, more for the baseball players, according to court documents. They would then usually travel to the U.S. border crossing at Laredo, Texas, and ask to be permitted to stay in the U.S.

Under the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Cubans who reach dry land in the U.S. are generally allowed to remain while those intercepted at sea are returned to the communist island. Lazo’s attorney, William Clay, said many of Lazo’s customers were overjoyed to make it to the U.S. despite the costs.

“They had gotten what they bargained for,” Clay said.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Davidson said migrants who couldn’t pay were held for ransom by armed guards, often threatened and sometimes beaten. Although Lazo himself did not participate in any violence, Davidson said he was well aware it was going on.

“This man is not a freedom fighter,” Davidson said.

The case also provided a glimpse into how Mexican drug cartels get their cut of the migrant smuggling business. Court documents show that in the Cancun area, the Zetas cartel charges Cuban smugglers $10,000 per boat and up to $3,000 per migrant to allow them to pass through their territory and assist in paying bribes to local officials.

No evidence surfaced in the case that Martin or any of the other valuable Cuban ballplayers were mistreated. Only Martin has been identified by name in the Lazo case, but other Cuban stars such as Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig have also been smuggled through Mexico.

Read more here: Human Trafficking




  1. I have always said since the year 2004 that the Castro regime is trafficking ball players and even in this site I have previously mentioned this issue.Alejandro Castro,the youngest of Fidel Castro ‘s son is in charge of the Cuban National team.Years ago it was extremely hard for Cuban players to defect the Island because the team was extremely monitor by the DI and out of the sudden a bunch of players ere defecting? and one of Castro’s former players named Orlando Pacheco a former player from Pinar del Rio and Castro’s worshiper is in Florida when two years ago he was saying that Fidel Castro was the mayor influence in his life.Now Pacheco is in Florida.Is he a coordinator between the future Major league teams and the players that are coming?Is Castro letting these players to leave the island and then is asking them for a portion of their contract?Come on people,LET’S THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX HERE,IS THE MURDERER FIDEL CASTRO TRYING TO AVOID THE EMBARGO ONCE AGAIN?

  2. Let’s remember that Castro’s youngest son is in charge of the Cuban National Baseball team.Baseball is a very lucrative business and for the Castro family anything and everything illegal is fair business.

  3. Mr. Simmons, enough is enough.

    Let me put things into perspective, which you have distorted in using the tetrminology “Human Trafficking” from the definiton of such terminology´s legal reality.

    What you alleged to be “human trafficking” is not! Now, For Pete´s sake, what are you talking about? So you know–for once and for all–what human trafficking is, here´s the definition:

    “Human trafficking” is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others; or for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal; or for providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage.

    “Human trafficking” differs from “people smuggling”, which involves persons voluntarily requesting or hiring another individual(s) to covertly transport them across an international border, usually because the smuggled person would be denied entry into a country by legal channels. Though illegal, there may be no deception or coercion involved. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way.

    According to the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), “people smuggling” is a violation of national immigration laws of the destination country, and does not require violations of the rights of the smuggled person. “Human trafficking”, on the other hand, is a crime against a person because of the violation of the victim’s rights through coercion and exploitation. Let me remind you, during Worldf War II, hundreds of thousands of jews had no option but to flee–to be smuggled out–from Germany to get-away from Hitler´s undeniable criminal acts against humanity and in order to flee, many paid high stipends and direct monetary fees to people smugglers who would safely get them out of Hitler´s saidistic, perverse, facist and criminal regime.

    Furthermore, While “persons smuggling” requires travel, “human trafficking” does not. Trafficked people are held against their will through acts of coercion, and forced to work for or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work or services may include anything from bonded or forced labor to commercial sexual exploitation. The arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment, or on terms which are highly exploitative. Sometimes the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt.

    So please spare me of your DISTORTED exaggeration here and now let´s get into the issue at hand at its central theme.

    BASEBALL IS BIG BUSINESS. So, if a baseball player decides to hire a “person smuggler” to come to this country where baseball is a huge, huge business, that is a very personal decision on the part of the baseball player and is also a decision of the “person smuggler”. There is no “human trafficking” crime there. There is a violation of immigration policy which makes it a federal offense case.

    THERE IS NO “HUMAN TRAFFICKING RING” AS YOU STATE. There is only a “persons smuggling” action.

    Now, for instance, Jeb Bush a former Governor of the State of Florida recently expressed that even though coming over the border illegaly is a felony, by law, he believes and ergo stated: “it is not actually a felony”. This is the former highest State of Florida executive official representing the government, the closest state of the union to Cuba–perhaps Jeb Bush is even a contender candidate to the next Presidential election of this country and is the son of a former one-term President of the United States of America and also the brother of a two-term President–also–of the United States of America. So, you go figure it out.

    My personal opinion is the people in Taiwan were offered visas–and even official residency in the United States of America–as many other foreign nationals were offered too, only if they made investments higher than a certain listed amount of money. In other words, these foreign nationals could buy their way into this country by paying a monetary price tag, which makes the whole thing an inmoral loophole in the law and an injustice against humanity and I would go as far as saying that would be considered “trafficking in visas” and “trafficking of residency permits” into this nation. Tell that to this Federal Judge who probably hasn´t figiured it out for himself and never will.

    I believe the President of the United States should immediately end the trade embargo against Cuba, but first, restore diplomaric relations with Cuba the same way the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with China in the early 1970´s.

    Major Banks in this nation were receltly imposed major fines amounting in the billions of dollars for their malfeasance and fanancial wrongdoing. Nobody criminal charges were filed, nobody went to prison, although the banks wrongdoing destroyed the hopes and dreams of millions of American citizens who lost thier homes as a result of those actions, while the financial institutions became unjustly enriched. Now, why would anyone want to talk about a baseball player who was smuggled when the bar of justice in this country has shifted dramatically and specially when we went to civil war once between the Confederate States and the Yanquee States in the North over what was truly “Human Trafficking” in the slave trade. The whole thing is ridiculous, I´m too old for this level of bull and hypocrisy.

  4. Whenever you see,Orlando Pacheco and Antonio Munoz who openly said to the press that he was one of Fidel’s Cubans, you know that the dictatorship is doing something or they may be creating some type of connection between these old communist players and the defecting players.What are these retired players who openly worship Castro doing in the US?
    Are they trying to influence the Major Leagues in accepting Cuban players in a way that the Castro regime makes profit from the players future contracts?Are these old players here because they are disenchanted with the regime?

  5. Orlando Pacheco which played for Pinar del Rio and Antonio Munoz who played for Villa Clara were Castro’s kids.Whenever they played outside Cuba those two players always mentioned that they were grateful to Castro and the Revolution for their personal success.Munoz said to the press that he was a Castro’s Cuban referring himself not been a Florida exile. Alejandro Castro is in Charge of the National Cuban baseball team and to me is very coincidental that out of the sudden Cuban baseball players are defecting in droves to the US when in the pass it was almost impossible to defect to the US due to the G-2’s control over the baseball players.it is also a coincidence that Pacheco and Munoz who retired from the Cuban baseball and who openly have express their love for Castro and his tyranny are in Florida.This event really bother me because it really makes me think that the Castro regime may be behind just another scheme to make profit in this case,to make profit out of the contract of baseball players.

  6. The very definition of the term “human smuggling” helps to establish the big difference between “Humans Trafficking” and “Human Smuggling”. To smuggle someone into another country by illegal means is a contravention with the destination country´s immigration laws. Yet, such human smmugling event is not in contravention with human rights laws, because once the smuggled human arrives at his/her destination poingt, such human is free to go and is not coerced to work under any obligation whatsoever. No one here, through the expression of a personal opinion, is going to change the reality of what this terminology means nor its reality of practice. Anyone who wants to portend there is a so called “baseball players trafficking ring” has to first prove, in this nation of laws, that such baseball player smmugled actually is obilgated to work for a so called “baseball players trafficking ring”. I´m still waiting for the proof to all the “acolades of a proclamation of Human Trafficking in Cuba of baseball players. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, self-serving it may be to anti-Castro opinion makers. Let the truth be told and not twisted to fit self serving political agendas.

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