Former Major League Baseball player Esteban Loaiza has been charged with drug trafficking after police said they found 44 pounds of suspected cocaine at a home he rented near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department valued the drugs at $500,000. Loaiza, 46, was charged with drug possession and trafficking and was jailed under $200,000 bail.
Police said Loaiza, a former All-Star pitcher who had a 14-year MLB career, was stopped for a traffic infraction on Friday. He had already been on law enforcement’s radar because he’d been seen driving a vehicle “believed to be involved in the smuggling of narcotics,” the sheriff’s department said.
Deputies searching Loaiza’s car found a “sophisticated” compartment for concealing contraband and obtained a search warrant for the home in Imperial Beach, California, that Loaiza had been renting since early February.
Investigators say they discovered packages of “white powder” weighing 20 kilograms, or about 44 pounds. The sheriff’s department described the substance as suspected cocaine, though it’s still being tested and could include other drugs.
Loaiza’s agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had not been in contact with his client recently and was “shocked” by the arrest.
“I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation,” Boggs said. “I don’t know how he would get himself involved in this, so it’s difficult to even comment on it.”
Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border from Imperial Beach. From 1995 until his retirement in 2008, he played for teams that included the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.
He was the starting pitcher in the 2003 All-Star Game and, according to the New York Daily News, was the second-winningest pitcher from Mexico in MLB history.
As CBS Sports noted, Loaiza made an appearance earlier this month at a White Sox fan event in Chicago.