Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu testified in front of a Miami federal jury Wednesday he destroyed his fake passport while on a 2013 flight entering the U.S. by eating it to avoid getting caught in a Cuban ballplayer smuggling operation.
Abreu, a Cuban native, testified he went to the plane restroom as soon as possible after the flight took off to dispose of his fake Haitian passport, but flight attendants began knocking on the door. Abreu ripped out the first page, which bore his photo and a fake name, threw the rest of the passport in the trash, returned to his seat, ordered a Heineken, tore the page into tiny pieces and began eating each piece one by one while washing it down with his cold adult beverage.
Abreu was traveling to the U.S. to make a late October deadline to sign a six-year contract worth $68 million with the White Sox and believed traveling illegally was his best option to make it on time.
The testimony was a result of the trial sport agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada, who allegedly operated a ring that took Cuban baseball players to third-party countries to sign Major League Baseball contracts after establishing residency. Abreu has not been charged with a crime.
Once arriving in Miami, Abreu was allowed to stay in the U.S., due to foreign policy with respect to Cuban immigrants.
Abreu testified that Hernandez and his associates helped him negotiate the contract, while Estrada managed his training and lodging while he stayed in Haiti and the Dominican Republic during the smuggling process.
The trial is expected to continue for another few weeks and Abreu was given time off from the team’s spring training activities to testify. Abreu is entering his fourth season with the White Sox and hit 25 home runs while driving in 100 runs in 2016.