Three Charged in Smuggling, Extortion of Rangers Player Martin
Leonys Martin Tapanes seemed like yet another Cuban baseball player with tremendous promise when he signed a $15.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers in 2011 as an outfielder.
But there apparently is a darker story behind Martin’s climb from poverty to Major League Baseball success.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami on Wednesday charged three people – Eliezer Lazo, 40, formerly of Miami Lakes, Joel Martinez Hernandez, 37, formerly of Miami-Dade, and Yilian Hernandez, 30, of Hialeah – with conspiring to smuggle, kidnap and extort the 25-year-old Rangers outfielder.
The trio are also charged with smuggling 13 other Cuban baseball prospects to the United States – all of them going from Cuba into Mexico and then into the United States.