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Jury selection begins in the human trafficking case against agents of Cuban ballplayers

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 02: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets hits a double in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on July 2, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Jury selection is underway today in Miami federal courtroom in the case of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, sports agents charged with illegally smuggling baseball players from Cuba to the United States. The two are accused of taking as much as $15 million from players, who were placed under duress, sent on dangerous and surreptitious boat voyages, placing them in danger and who were, allegedly, subjected to threats of violence before agreeing to hand over millions to the agents.

Three baseball players have been placed on the witness list: Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Adeiny Hechevarria of the Miami Marlins. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and various MLB executives are named as possible witnesses as well. Neither Cespedes, Abreu nor Hechevarria are not accused of wrongdoing.

Potential jurors will be questioned beginning Monday in the case of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, both of whom have pleaded not guilty. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.

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