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. The 46-year-old retired athlete did not speak in court but did look at his father and other family members before his defense attorney entered his not guilty plea.
If convicted on all counts, Loaiza faces more than 20 years in prison. Authorities estimated the drugs had a street value of about $500,000. 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.
Authorities then obtained a search warrant for his home, where they reportedly found packages of a white powder officials believed to be cocaine.
Katz ordered Loaiza to remain in San Diego County if he posts bail, which had been set at $200,000 after his arrest Friday.
At Loaiza's leased home, which was located next to a school, investigators discovered roughly 44 pounds of cocaine, the lieutenant alleged. The charges are for any amount over 10 kilograms, prosecutors said. The court raised the former pitcher's bail to $250,000.
It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment.
Born in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, Loaiza became a star athlete in the US. He played for eight teams from 1995 to 2008, starting the 2003 All-Star Game while with the Chicago White Sox.
Loaiza is the second-winningest pitcher from Mexico in major league history.
Two years later, he married Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera.