White Sox slugger Jose Abreu testifies in Cuban ballplayer smuggling operation trial

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu made an alarming confession Wednesday when testifying before a federal jury in Miami in the trial of two men accused of smuggling and conspiracy. They allegedly operated a ring that took Cuban players from the communist-governed island to third countries where they could sign lucrative Major League Baseball contracts once they established residency.

While aboard an Air France flight from Haiti to Miami, Abreu said he ordered a beer and ate the page, which included a fake name with his photo.

After consuming the delicacy, Abreu ultimately signed a $68 million deal with Chicago and the rest is history.

Abreu, a Cuban immigrant, admitted to traveling to the United States under a false passport because he if he was not "there on that particular day, the deadline, then the contract would not be executed and would no longer be valid, " Abreu told jurors.

Abreu spent all of Wednesday on the stand in the case of Florida sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and baseball trainer Julio Estrada.

Abreu, along with the others who testified, were granted "limited immunity", which states that there would be no penalty for revealing everything that they know to the court.

Abreu will fly back to Phoenix at some point Thursday though the White Sox will not rush him into game action. After boarding, Abreu said he dumped most of the passport in the airplane bathroom, the Sun Sentinel reported, but kept the first page with his identification on him for when he headed back to his seat.

But getting a fake Haitian passport to make the final journey was his idea, Abreu said, and he asked Latouff for help getting it, according to the AP.

Once in Miami, under the Cuban immigration policy at the time Abreu was allowed to remain in the US because he had reached American soil despite having no travel documents.

Defense lawyers for Hernandez and Estrada have said their clients did not break the law, per the Sun Sentinel, and were just representing Cuban-born players after they defected. That policy was later repealed by President Barack Obama, the report added.

Abreu's struggle to leave Cuba has been well-documented by Jeff Passan of Yahoo!Sports and others. The trial is expected to last several more weeks.

  • Julie Sanders