Guilty plea set in Cuban ballplayer smuggling

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MIAMI (AP) — The accused leader of a human trafficking ring is set to plead guilty to U.S. charges involving the smuggling of more than 1,000 Cubans, including baseball players such as Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.

A federal judge set a Friday afternoon hearing in the case of Eliezer Lazo, who is already serving a five-year prison sentence for money laundering in a Medicare fraud case. 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 Eliezer 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.

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