Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig says he won’t be drawn into discussing his flight from Cuba despite magazine articles describing human trafficking, a drug cartel and death threats.
“I’m aware of the recent articles and news accounts,” Puig said Wednesday in a statement issued through his agent, Adam Katz.
“I understand that people are curious and have questions, but I will have no comment on this subject.”
In an article published on Sunday, Los Angeles Magazine reported that Puig had received death threats from human traffickers who were under the control of a Mexican drug cartel – all in relation to his flight from Cuba to Mexico in 2012.
ESPN the Magazine has conducted a five-month investigation of its own and says its account, to be posted online on Thursday, will also detail numerous times Puig was in physical danger.
According to Los Angeles Magazine, a Miami-area businessman with a criminal record, Raul Pacheco, agreed to pay $250,000 to Cuban smugglers with ties to a Mexican drug cartel to take Puig and several others to Mexico, where he could seek asylum and from there attempt a Major League Baseball career.
In exchange, Puig reportedly agreed to give 20 percent of his future baseball earnings to Pacheco.
However, once in Mexico Puig and the others were held in a remote location and threatened as Pacheco failed to pay.
Eventually Puig made it to Mexico City, and he got his chance – landing a seven-year $42 million contract with the Dodgers and paying Pacheco the promised 20 percent.
However, the article says that the smugglers continued to threaten Puig and his family, attempting to collect money they felt was owed to them.
The articles also report on a lawsuit that accuses Puig of wrongfully accusing a man of trying to set up a defection.
“I’m represented on this matter, and I’m only focused on being a productive teammate and helping the Dodgers win games,” Puig said in his statement.