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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

3 individuals indicted for alien smuggling, extortion, kidnapping conspiracy

MIAMI — Three Cuban nationals were indicted Wednesday and charged for their roles in a human smuggling operation. The indictment resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.

Eliezer Lazo, 40, Joel Martinez-Hernandez, 37, and Yilian Hernandez, 30, allegedly conspired to bring certain aliens into the United States. They are also accused of kidnapping and extortion. The government seeks forfeiture of the defendants' bank accounts, interests and title tied to Estrellas del Beisbol, a purported baseball training facility in Mexico. The government has also requested the forfeiture of the defendants' interests in contracts with 13 other individuals.

HSI arrested Hernandez Wednesday morning in Miami-Dade County, and she will have her initial appearance Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres. Lazo and Martinez-Hernandez are currently in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons serving sentences for other offenses. The United States has begun the process of having Lazo and Martinez-Hernandez returned to Miami to face the new charges.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum term of life in prison.