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Article Claims Dodgers Star Yasiel Puig’s Cuba Defection Involved Mexican Cartel, Smugglers

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — As the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants renew their rivalry at AT&T Park this week, the security of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig may be in question after an article emerged with a number of surprising claims regarding his escape from Cuba to the United States.

The article is authored by Jesse Katz of Los Angeles Magazine, who said he has spent months researching the past of the young phenom-ballplayer, which has included a number of trips to Cuba.

While the story of Puig’s escape from Cuba was already known to have involved his interception and capture by the United States Coast Guard, his return to Cuba, and his subsequent imprisonment, Katz’ article, which is due to appear in magazine’s May issue, alleges the inclusion of smugglers.

“He knew he was dealing with smugglers, there is no other way to get off the island than to deal with smugglers,” Katz said. “We didn’t know much about him. Now we see him, (and) kind of how he deals with pressure, and the kinds of risks that he’s willing to take.”

Katz article highlights the name of Miami resident and air conditioning repairman/recycler Raul Pacheco, who reportedly has a record of attempted burglary and of using fake IDs.

Katz further alleges that Pacheco had agreed to pay the smugglers $250,000 upon Puig’s safe arrival in Mexico, with the belief that Puig had allegedly agreed to pay Pacheco 20% of his earnings.

However, Katz said the smugglers never received their money, and that they applied a “Non-payment” penalty of $15,000 to $20,000 per day.

The penalty period, which is said to have lasted 29 days, resulted in Puig being held captive in a low-key Mexican hotel.

That, according to Katz, is when the involvement of a Mexican drug cartel materialized.

“The smugglers, again, are not the cartel; I want to be clear about that. Yasiel is a layer or two removed from that, but the smugglers, they have to deal with the cartel,” Katz said.

Puig, who signed a 7-year, $42 million with the Dodgers in June 2012, would owe quite a sum to the parties involved in his defection from Cuba, according to the standards of Katz’ article.

“According to the court documents, he’s payed 1.3 million dollars to those folks already, and (he) presumably owes them more,” Katz said.

Katz’ story proceeds to include a smuggler, known only as Leo, who is said to have wanted more money from Puig’s camp.

“Leo turned up dead,” Katz said. “He was shot 13 times in a sort of upscale district of Cancun.”

With Katz’ article, a number of security personnel are considering the possibility of a potential risk factor — presented by these claims of dealings with potentially dangerous individuals — to the safety of fans at Dodger Stadium.

“We don’t discuss out security details relative to individuals,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said. “But, we will take whatever steps necessary.”

Katz, meanwhile, said that, while he believes the idea of a solid risk to fans at Dodger Stadium is minimal, he considers it a possibility.

“The idea that Dodger fans, or Dodger teammates, would be in any kind of imminent harm, I find that as a little bit farfetched. But, you know, he did do business with some really unsavory characters, and one of them is dead.”

The Giants and Dodgers will face off in a three-game series starting on Tuesday night.

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