Human Traffickers Threatened to Chop Off Yasiel Puig’s Hand During His Escape from Cuba

Yasiel Puig

It is very difficult for Cuban baseball players to get to the United States so they can play in the big leagues. Your typical Cuban citizen could just go straight to Miami because, once there, they’d be allowed to stay. However, they would not immediately have legal status in the U.S., which means they would not be able to work. Thus, Cuban baseball players usually go to Mexico first, where it’s easy to establish legal residency. Then major league ball clubs can sign them.

Of course, they call it defecting when Cuban baseball players move to the States to play in the big leagues. But the truth of the matter is, when you secretly leave a place you’re not allowed to leave, it’s an escape.

Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig escaped in 2012. Not long after that he signed a $42 million contract with the Dodgers, and by 2013 every baseball fan in America knew his name. Now, however, some details are starting to emerge about Puig’s escape from Cuba, and let’s just say, it was pretty harrowing.

You see, the human trafficking ring that Puig had hired got him out of Cuba easily enough. However, they refused to move him into Mexico until they had received payment from the middleman in Miami who had arranged the whole thing. Since that was taking a long time, Puig and the three other defectors with him were basically held hostage on an island off the coast of Cancun. And pretty soon the smugglers grew impatient, which led to some pretty serious threats.

“If they didn’t receive the money,” explained Puig’s friend Yunior Despaigne, a fellow defector, “they were saying that at any moment they might give him a machetazo, chop off an arm, a finger, whatever, and he would never play baseball again, not for anyone.”

Eventually, a rival trafficking group stole Puig and got him to Mexico City. And later, after signing his contract with the Dodgers, Puig allegedly paid them 20% of that deal’s total value—roughly $8 million.

So that’s it, then. That’s the end of the story?

Nope. Since Puig was “stolen,” the rival trafficking rings have been having a bit of a spat—one guy from the original trafficking ring wound up dead, while another guy from the second trafficking ring disappeared.

Moreover, apparently the first trafficking ring that was holding Puig hostage still wants their money. And on at least one occasion, one of them showed up at the Dodgers’ team hotel to confront Puig.

So yeah, I guess you could say Puig has some serious issues to sort out. Maybe people should cut him a little slack when he doesn’t run out a ground ball or whatever.

Hat Tip – [ESPN]

Tags: baseball, cuba, defection, MLB, Yasiel Puig,