Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Ex-Yankees pitcher Esteban Loaiza pleads not guilty to drug charges

Ex-Yankees pitcher Esteban Loaiza pleads not guilty to drug charges

Former MLB pitcher Esteban Loaiza will be in Chula Vista court Wednesday to face drug smuggling charges after San Diego County Sheriff's deputies said they found cocaine in his vehicle.

Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

If convicted on all counts, Loaiza faces more than 20 years in prison. He was pulled over for a minor traffic violation after he was spotted driving a 2010 Mercedes 450 believed involved in a smuggling operation, Vickery said. He played for eight teams, with his best season coming in 2003 as a member of the Chicago White Sox. His arrest at that time (following a game), led to a movement across the league where teams stopped serving beer in clubhouses after the game. Deaton as well as Loaiza's relatives left the courtroom without speaking to reporters, and the attorney did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. That was enough cause to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to hide contraband, authorities said.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department valued the narcotics at more than $500,000.

Loaiza was a two-time All Star who won 126 games in his career, the second most for a Mexican-born pitcher behind Los Angeles Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela. He was married to singer Jenni Rivera but the couple filed for divorce in October 2012.

After graduating high school, Loaiza signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent.

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