A former Major League pitcher has been arrested and faces a number of felony drug charges, according to authorities in San Diego County. Esteban Loaiza was arrested Friday as part of what’s described as an ongoing narcotics investigation.
In a press release issued today, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said: “On 02/09/2018 as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, former Major League Baseball player Esteban Antonio Loaiza (12-31-71) was arrested by members of the Sheriff’s Border Crimes Suppression Team. 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 a 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.”
The release adds: “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 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.”
The press release also notes: “Loaiza was booked into San Diego County Jail for 11370.4 (A) (4) H.S. Possession of Cocaine Over 20 Kilograms, 11351 H.S. Possession of Cocaine for Sale, and 11352 (a) H.S. Transportation of Cocaine. His bail was set at $200,000.”
The suspected cocaine amounts to about 44 pounds.
Loaiza spent 14 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1995-2008, playing for a number of teams including the Dodgers, Yankees, Pirates, Rangers, Blue Jays and White Sox. He was the American League’s starting pitcher in the 2003 All-Star Game and was the AL strikeout leader in 2003, finishing second behind Roy Halladay for the Cy Young Award that year.
His agent, John Boggs, is quoted in media reports saying: “I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation. I don’t know how he would get himself involved in this, so it’s difficult to even comment on it.”
Loaiza is reportedly due to appear in court Wednesday.