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Jury to decide guilt or innocence in Cuban smuggling case

FILE - Feb 1, 2017 photos of sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Extrada leaving federal court. Closing arguments are set for Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Miami trial of Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada accused of smuggling Cuban baseball players into the United States. Both are facing conspiracy and alien smuggling charges. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

A Miami jury will now decide the fate of a sports agent and a trainer accused of smuggling Cuban baseball players into the United States.

The federal jury was expected to begin deliberations Wednesday after six weeks of testimony in the trial of agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada. Both are charged with conspiracy and alien smuggling.

Prosecutors said the two oversaw a network of boat captains, handlers, document forgers and used phony paperwork to get the players to the U.S. quickly so they could sign lucrative Major League Baseball contracts. Defense lawyers say the men did nothing illegal.

Several smuggled Cuban players testified, including Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Leonys Martin of the Seattle Mariners. Neither Hernandez nor Estrada took the witness stand.

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