Former Yankees pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested Friday in San Diego with an estimated half million dollars of what police believe was cocaine, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Loaiza, 46, was also charged with felony counts of possession or purchase of narcotics and transportation or sale of narcotics.
A sheriff’s department drug surveillance team busted the All-Star hurler after he left his home near the Mexican border during a traffic stop in a car they believed was carrying drugs, police said.
Investigators discovered the 44 pounds of white power stashed in a secret compartment in the vehicle they believe is part of a drug smuggling ring, according to Lt. Jason Vickery of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The Tijuana, Mexico, native was held on $ 200,000 bail and is set to face the felony drug charges in court Wednesday.
Loaiza played 14 MLB seasons from 1995-2008 and retired with a career record of 126-114.
He is the second-winningest pitcher from Mexico in MLB history behind Fernando Valenzuela’s 173 wins.
The righthander played for eight different teams in his career, spending most of his time with the Pirates, Blue Jays, Rangers and White Sox.
The journeyman had his best year with the White Sox in 2003, when he went 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA and was the American League’s starting pitcher in that year’s All-Star game held at his home park, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.
Athletes in trouble with the law
He briefly played with the Yankees in 2004 after he was traded from the White Sox to New York in exchange for pitcher Jose Contreras, appearing in just 10 games.
It was not immediately known if Loaiza has hired a lawyer.
He could not be reached for comment.
The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, though other drugs could be involved as well, Vickery said.
The arrest was part of an ongoing drug probe. After watching the pitcher leave his Imperial Beach home, which he just started renting in February, police stopped his car for a “minor traffic infraction.”
That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza’s rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.
Loaiza was briefly married to the late singer Jenni Rivera, who allegedly entertained for Mexican drug cartels, according to Mexican media.
Loaiza was separated from Rivera when she died in a plane crash in 2012.