Lawyers: Sports agent, trainer deny Cuban player smuggling

MIAMI (AP) Lawyers for a sports agent and a trainer told jurors they ran legitimate businesses and were not involved with illegal smuggling of Cuban baseball players from the communist island.

Opening statements were held Wednesday in the case against agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada, both of whom have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and alien smuggling charges.

Prosecutors said the pair used shady boat captains, document forgers and phony paperwork to get the players to the U.S. quickly so they could sign lucrative contracts totaling some $150 million. Both stood to make millions of dollars from those contracts.

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No players are accused of wrongdoing. Players Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Adeiny Hechevarria of the Miami Marlins may testify.