Former MLB pitcher Esteban Loaiza enters not guilty plea in drug case

Former MLB pitcher Esteban Loaiza enters not guilty plea in drug case

With AP Photos.Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza is heading to court accused of drug dealing involving 44 pounds of suspected cocaine.

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Karkenny successfully pushed for Loaiza's bail to be increased to $250,000, saying the 46-year-old is a flight risk with ties to Mexico and a large amount of financial assets.

Prosecutors charged Loaiza, 46, with possession and transportation for sale of more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of cocaine, a cocaine base or heroin, and using a false compartment to smuggle drugs. 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.

Deputies searched his rented home in Imperial Beach and said they discovered packages of white powder they believed to be cocaine.

Esteban Loaiza was arrested in California on suspicion of trafficking drugs.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department valued the narcotics at more than $500,000. He was the American League's starting pitcher in the All-Star Game that year. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's hard to even comment on it". That provide enough probable cause for officers to seek a search warrant to take a look in his home, which he leased in early February.

Vickery said when deputies searched the auto, they noticed a "sophisticated aftermarket" hidden compartment in his vehicle believed used to hide contraband.

He last appeared in the majors in 2008 with the White Sox.

She filed for divorce shortly before her death, ending their two-year marriage.

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.