The background of Los Angeles Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig is making headlines after an article in Los Angeles Magazine alleges that the baseball player was smuggled into the United States by a drug cartel.
"Jesse Katz's article about Puig's path from Cuba to LA (is) filled with danger, extortion, drug money, death threats," sportscaster Petros Papdakis said on the "Petros & Money" radio show Tuesday.
The highly researched exposé, published Sunday, claims Puig was smuggled out of Cuba by a Mexican drug cartel that wanted a cut of Puig’s eventual multimillion dollar salary.
According to the article, a Miami-based air-conditioning repairman named Raul Pacheco funded the transportation of Puig to Mexico by the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel in June 2012. The smugglers then held Puig in a hotel for weeks while trying to extract more money from Pacheco. The smugglers allegedly even threatened to mutilate Puig, and in turn jeopardize his baseball career, as part of the extortion.
"You have to somehow associate with unsavory people and be part of this criminal pipeline that’s going to deliver you," said Jesse Katz, the journalist who wrote the piece.
Katz said similar situation have happened before with other Cuban exiles.
Both the Dodgers and Major League Baseball would not comment on the allegations.
The LA Times’ Bill Plaschke suggested Tuesday that if the drug cartel is upset with a lack of payment, it could be a safety risk for the Dodgers.
LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck would not discuss specifics in terms of added security around Puig, but did say that the department works "very closely with the Dodgers and adjusts "deployment based on the needs."
Puig signed a 7-year contract with the Dodgers for $42 million.