PEORIA, Ariz. — The agent who helped new Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin defect from Cuba in 2010 was arrested Friday after a federal grand jury indicted him on human-trafficking charges.
The sealed indictment, obtained by Yahoo Sports, alleges Bart Hernandez conspired with smugglers in August 2010 to bring Martin, then a standout on the Cuban national team, into the United States.
Martin subsequently signed five-year deal with Texas for $15.5 million on May 4, 2011. The Mariners acquired him in a Nov. 16, 2015 trade, and he projects as their starting center fielder.
If convicted, Hernandez is likely to surrender $1.5 million in agent fees connected to the three plays and could face up to 20 years in prison. The minimum sentence is three years.
Hernandez is the first person indicted in a ongoing federal investigation into the manner by which high-profile Cuban players are smuggled into the United States. He was arrested by agents from Homeland Security and the FBI.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners