Baseball star stands accused in journey from Cuba to big leagues
By Zachary Fagenson
(Reuters) - As young Cuban slugger Yasiel Puig is earning millions on the baseball field with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a bizarre story of how the talented player escaped from the Communist-ruled island country is unfolding in U.S. court documents.
Puig ran a gauntlet of fast boats, Mexican drug smugglers and even death threats in his 2012 flight from Cuba, according to a $12 million lawsuit filed by a man who accuses the ballplayer of informing on him to Cuban authorities.
Puig has declined to comment on the allegations and his lawyer has filed a motion to have the case dismissed.
"I'm only focused on being a productive teammate and helping the Dodgers win games," Puig was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his agent.
A rookie sensation with the Dodgers last season, Puig succeeded in leaving Cuba two years ago by taking a boat to Mexico supplied by smugglers connected to the Zetas drug cartel, according to the affidavit of Yunior Despaigne, a Cuban boxer who fled the island with Puig.
The affidavit is part of the lawsuit filed in a Miami federal court by Miguel Angel Corbacho, a resident of Havana.
Corbacho alleges he was tortured and sentenced to seven years in prison in Cuba in 2010 after Puig wrongly told police that he was part of a conspiracy to smuggle the ballplayer off the island.
"Our client wasn't a smuggler," said Corbacho's attorney Kenia Bravo, saying he was accidentally swept up in Puig's earlier efforts to be smuggled out of Cuba. Continued...