The Chicago Tribune reports:
When Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu finally boarded a plane to the U.S after being smuggled from Cuba to Haiti, he said he had one mission: Destroy the fake Haitian passport he was traveling on before his flight landed in Miami.
He testified Wednesday that he went to the restroom as soon as possible after the flight took off from Haiti. But flight attendants quickly started knocking on the door.
So he ripped out the first page of the passport, which bore his photo and a fake name, and dumped the rest of the passport in the restroom garbage.
“I went back to my seat, I ordered a beer — a Heineken beer — and then, little by little, I swallowed that first page of the passport,” Abreu testified, speaking Spanish translated by a courtroom interpreter.
A Major League Baseball contract with the White Sox — worth $68 million over six years — was riding on Abreu’s ability to enter the U.S. by a deadline in late October 2013, federal prosecutors say.
They called Abreu, 30, of Kendall, to testify in federal court in Miami in the trial of baseball agent Bartolo Hernandez, of Weston, and trainer Julio Estrada, of Miami.
Hernandez and Estrada have pleaded not guilty to allegations they were heavily involved in the shadowy world of illegally smuggling Cuban baseball players to the U.S. for lucrative contracts. The men also helped smuggle the players’ family members and loved ones, according to the indictment.
Abreu reportedly paid the smugglers $5.8 million. He has been given immunity in exchange for his testimony.