April 17th, 2014 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Sports, Media, Cops and Courts

Former Portlander Pens Extraordinary Tale Of Cuban Baseball Phenom

Jesse Katz chronicles Dodger Yasiel Puig's Perilous Journey

puigYasiel Puig - wiki commons
By now, most sports fans are familiar with Yasiel Puig, the prodigiously talented Cuban defector whose electrifying skills pumped life into the moribund Los Angeles Dodgers last year.

But the story that Jesse Katz tells in the current edition of Los Angeles magazine—it's full of shakedowns, Mexican mobsters, crooked human traffickers and a bullet-riddled corpse—is straight out of an Elmore Leonard novel.

Local talent alert: Katz, the son of former Oregon House Speaker and three-term Portland Mayor Vera Katz, grew up in Portland. He was Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Los Angeles Times before leaving to write magazine articles and books.

Katz dug up a ton of new information about the bargain Puig struck to win his freedom.

Here's a taste of what he found:

“Puig’s journey, according to claims made in court documents and detailed in interviews, had been underwritten by a small-time crook in Miami named Raul Pacheco, an air-conditioning repairman and recycler who was on probation for attempted burglary and possession of a fake ID. Pacheco had allegedly agreed to pay the smugglers $250,000 to get Puig out of Cuba; Puig, after signing a contract, would owe 20 percent of his future earnings to Pacheco.”
 
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