MIAMI (AP) A man accused of masterminding a human trafficking ring pleaded guilty Friday 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, 41, 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 additional years behind bars. Lazo agreed to cooperate with investigators, which could reduce his prison time when he is sentenced later this year.
Prosecutors say Lazo led an organization that smuggled Cubans by boat into Mexico, where they were held until ransom payments were made. The cost was typically about $10,000 for each person, although it could be much higher in the case of Cuban baseball stars such as Martin.