Gilberto Suarez, a 40 year old businessman from South Florida pleaded not guilty after he was arrested for his part in a smuggling ring that allegedly helped Yasiel Puig, a star player for the Los Angeles Dodgers enter the country in 2012. The not guilty plea was in answer to an Indictment which gave away few details other than seeking forfeiture of any proceeds Suarez received from the illegal business deal that brought the baseball player, his girlfriend and spiritual adviser here from Cuba. Other than those details the Indictment was sealed.
Specifically, the forfeiture demand recorded in the Indictment seeks recovery of any funds that changed hands between the two, which were proceeds of a seven-year $42 million dollar contract that was negotiated for him by his agent Jaime Torres when signing with the west coast team. It further goes on to separately list almost three million dollars of cash, two properties and two late model luxury vehicles. The stellar outfielder was only identified as YP in the Indictment
In Miami, after a short hearing earlier this month in federal court, Suarez who was accompanied by his brother and wife at the bond hearing was released on $120,000 bail. His formal release occurred later in the day after he posted 10 percent of the compulsory amount. The arrest was carried out by Homeland Security Investigation’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (HIS-ICE). The primary charge was conspiracy to introduce aliens to the United States.
The Indictment stemmed from a civil lawsuit that was filed in federal district court in Miami against Puig that revealed how he eventually arrived in the states. Miguel Angel Cronbach Daudinot, a Dominican National filed the lawsuit while still in custody in Cuba claiming the court has jurisdiction under the Torture Victim Protection Act which sanctions civil cases to be heard in the United States versus persons who “commit torture while acting in an official capacity for a foreign nation.” Cronbach Daudinot maintained that the inhuman mistreatment he received while being in jail qualified as such.
The civil suit seeks monetary damages of $12 million dollars for “prolonged arbitrary detention and torture,” that resulted in a seven-year prison sentence. He now contends he suffers “poor mental and physical health” as the result of his imprisonment.
In 2010, Cronbach Daudinot was jailed after Puig and his mother testified against him as being a member of a human trafficking ring. Although he denied the claim in court he was convicted of basically attempting to plot Puig’s latest escape from the Island Nation.
Cronbach Daudinot repudiated the allegations stating that Puig made false statements against him so he would gain favor with the government to be reinstated to again play baseball for the Cuban National Team. Puig had previously been suspended after previous attempts at defection to the U.S. Cuban officials’ justly believed that he would attempt it again.
After over three years in prison Cronbach Daudinot was released into a “provisional liberty” program where he will serve the balance of his sentence. The probationary program limits his travel as well as requiring him to check in with authorities on a pre-specified timely basis.
According to documents filed in that case Suarez was named as one of the men that put up the money to transport Puig from Cuba to a small fishing village located near Cancun, Mexico. Initially, $250,000 was paid but the smugglers known as lancheros raised the rate to $400,000 before the crossing was concluded to Isla Mujeres, the village in close proximity to Cancun.
Yunior Despaigne, a Cuban boxer who had a hand in setting up the transaction also made the trip with Puig and his group signed an affidavit stating that the men who paid the smugglers to arrange the trip eventually hired others known as “fixers” to move them out of the smuggler’s custody where they were being held captive in a boardinghouse, unable to leave the premises without a chaperone as well as being under constant observation by guards.
They were finally transported to Mexico City via a cigarette boat where the outfielder was introduced to eager baseball scouts. It was later learned that the “lancheros” that finally liberated them from Cuba had deep ties to the Los Zetas cartel and were the actual leaders of the alien smuggling and boat theft ring. He also stated in the affidavit that it was conveyed to him that Suarez and others involved in the deal would be receiving a substantial percentage of Cuban National’s contract.
From Mexico City, entry into the United States for Puig and his party was simple after first landing in Texas allowing them to make use of the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy.
They walked across the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande International Bridge between Mexico, and Texas, entering the Immigration and Customs patrol station on the U.S. side. Able to prove Cuban citizenship with their National ID cards they were allowed to stay and declare asylum.