Former Major League Baseball pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested in San Diego on Friday with 44 pounds of cocaine in his possession. Loaiza is being held on a $200,000 bond and faces felony charges of possessing and transporting a controlled substance with intent to sell.
According to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Loaiza was stopped by police for a minor traffic violation while driving a vehicle suspected of being involved in drug smuggling. The vehicle search exposed a secret compartment used to conceal contraband. Police obtained a search warrant to search Loaiza's home, where they discovered a substance believed to be cocaine worth an estimated value of $500,000.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released an official statement:
During surveillance related to that investigation, Loaiza was seen driving a vehicle believed to be involved in the smuggling of narcotics. Loaiza was contacted during a traffic stop for a minor traffic infraction after leaving home in the City of Imperial Beach. A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a sophisticated aftermarket compartment used to conceal contraband.
Based on evidence obtained during the traffic stop a search warrant was issued for the Imperial Beach home which had been leased by Loaiza in early February,' the release continued. 'The home was just steps away from an area preschool. The subsequent search of the home led to the discovery of 20 kilograms of suspected cocaine which had an estimated value of about $500,000.
Loaiza pitched in the major leagues from 1995 to 2008, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. He played for eight different teams and was a starter for the 2003 All-Star Game as a member of the Chicago White Sox. Loaiza played 14 MLB seasons with a career record of 126-114, notes The Washington Post. According to Baseball-Reference, Loaiza made more than $43.7 million over his career, reports the Daily Mail.
Loaiza recently attended SoxFest, an event held in Chicago in which former White Sox players interact with fans and sign autographs, according to The Inquisitr.
Loaiza’s agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he has not spoken with Loaiza recently and that he had no information about the arrest. He said Loaiza had called his office early last week, but Boggs was unavailable.
‘‘I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation,’’ Boggs reportedly said in a text message to the newspaper. ‘‘I do not know how he would get himself involved in this, so it is difficult to even comment on it.’’
It is not the first time Loaiza has dealt with law enforcement. He was arrested in 2006 while playing for the Oakland Athletics after he was caught speeding and failed a sobriety test.
It is unknown whether Loaiza has hired a lawyer to take his case because Loaiza could not be reached for comments. Packages of white powder are being tested, but are believed to be cocaine, according to San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery. Loaiza’s charges are said to add up to at least 15 years in prison. Loaiza faces his court date on Wednesday.