Smuggling, extortion among charges

Updated: December 5, 2013, 1:38 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

Three people were charged in Miami with conspiring to smuggle, kidnap and extort Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin as he traveled from Cuba to the United States through Mexico, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

The report said that Joel Martinez Hernandez, Yilian Hernandez and Eliezer Lazo were charged by the U.S. attorney's office in Miami on Wednesday. The three were also charged with smuggling 13 other Cuban baseball players to the United States through Mexico.

Leonys Martin
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAccording to his lawyer, Leonys Martin was held "against his will" in Mexico by people associated with an agency that claims it had represented him.

The newspaper reports that the company Lazo and Martinez have a stake in, Estrellas del Beisbol, claims it was Martin's management agency after he was smuggled into Mexico in 2010. The company filed a lawsuit against Martin in Florida, saying he didn't pay the company up to 30 percent of his salary after he signed a $15.5 million multiyear deal with the Rangers in 2011.

Martin in his counterclaim says that he wired $1.35 million to the company but that he did it "out of fear for himself and his family, not with any intention of validating" the company's claim, according to the Miami Herald report.

Martin's lawyer declined to comment to the newspaper.

Estrellas del Beisbol, according to the suit, contends that under its agreement with Martin in November 2010 that it would provide housing, food and training for Martin in exchange for 35 percent of any future contract signed with a big league organization. The figure was reduced, the company says, to 30 percent with 5 percent going to Martin's agent. The agent, Bartolo Hernandez, was not charged in the Miami indictment, the report said.

Martin's lawyer claims his client signed the agreement "under duress" and that Martin was held "against his will" in Mexico.

Martin hit .260 with 49 RBIs and eight home runs in 147 games with the Rangers in 2013 and is expected to start in center field for the club next season.

Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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