Ex-All Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza to face drug charges


SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who earned more than $43 million over 14 seasons, is accused of drug dealing involving 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of suspected cocaine.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player is scheduled to be arraigned in court in Chula Vista, California, on Wednesday.

Loaiza was arrested Friday on suspicion of drug smuggling after San Diego County sheriff’s officers who pulled him over for a traffic violation found a “sophisticated” compartment used to hide contraband in his vehicle. Later they obtained a search warrant for the home he rented in the beach community of Imperial Beach, where officials say packages were found containing a white powder believed to be cocaine.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, included stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

Investigators have said the arrest was part of an on-going narcotics probe but have given few other details about how a successful baseball star became linked to a case involving the transport and sale of drugs with an estimated value of $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and he could not be reached to comment. He was being held for lack of $200,000 bail pending Wednesday’s court appearance.

Born in Tijuana, Loaiza became a celebrity in his native country after marrying the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. The “Diva de la Banda” was considered to be the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, selling more than 15 million records, and acting in reality television before she was killed in a plane crash in 2012.

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