On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI arrested Bart Hernandez, an agent who has represented Cuban baseball stars, including Jose Abreu, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jorge Soler and Leonys Martin, on charges of human smuggling.
The federal grand jury’s indictment revolves around Leonys Martin, traded to the Seattle Mariners by the Texas Rangers after last season. The indictment accuses Hernandez of working with two already-convicted Cuban alien smugglers, Eliezer Lazo and Joel Martinez Hernandez, to illegally transport a Cuban national identified as “L.M.T.” into the United States. ESPN sources asserted that “L.M.T.” stands for Leonys Martin Tapanes, Martin’s full Spanish name.
Martin has already asserted that he was held prisoner in Mexico by Lazo’s group after he was smuggled out of Cuba. The center fielder has also stated that Hernandez had a deal with the Lazo group to rep ballplayers retrieved from Cuba.
Sources told ESPN Hernandez had rejected a pre-indictment plea deal. He could serve up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The indictment stipulates that Hernandez turn over $1.5 million, which prosecutors allege Hernandez received in “gross proceeds” from his actions involving Martin and two other people, “J.A.C.” and “D.H.H.” Jose Abreu’s full name is Jose Abreu Correa; Phillies reliever Dalier Hinojosa was repped by Hernandez in 2013.
Lazo was sentenced in 2014 to 14 1/2 years in prison for extorting some of the roughly 1,000 migrants that he helped smuggle out of Cuba, including as many as two dozen baseball players.
ESPN reported in December 2014, “Under the U.S. ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy, Cubans who make it to U.S. soil are generally allowed to remain, while those intercepted at sea are returned to the communist island.”