A man accused of leading a human trafficking ring has pleaded guilty to U.S. extortion charges involving the smuggling of more than 1,000 Cubans, including baseball players such as Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.
Eliezer Lazo entered the plea Friday in Miami federal court. Lazo is already serving a five-year prison sentence for money laundering in a Medicare fraud case and now faces up to 20 years more. Prosecutors say Lazo and others smuggled Cubans into Mexico, where they were held until ransom payments were made.
Authorities are seeking forfeiture of bank accounts controlled by Lazo, including one traced to a purported Mexican baseball academy used to showcase players for Major League Baseball scouts. One of those players was Martin, who later signed a $15.5 million contract with the Rangers.