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Press Release

Former MLB All-Star Pitcher Esteban Loaiza Sentenced to Three Years for Cocaine Trafficking

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U. S. Attorney Larry Casper (619) 546-6734


SAN DIEGO – Former Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza was sentenced in federal court today to 36 months in prison for knowingly and intentionally possessing 20 kilograms - about 44 pounds - of cocaine with intent to distribute.   

In his plea agreement, Loaiza admitted that he took possession of a silver Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle on February 9, 2018 that he knew contained cocaine. He  drove the SUV to a townhouse he’d rented in Imperial Beach, where he transferred the 20 kilograms to another vehicle in the garage. He admitted he did so with the intent to distribute the cocaine to another person.

“As a professional athlete, Esteban Loaiza earned tens of millions of dollars and the admiration of baseball fans across the U.S. and Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “And yet he sacrificed his reputation - and now his freedom - to become a cocaine trafficker. No one is above the law, and that includes Major League all-star pitchers.”

“Mr. Loaiza lived every young boy’s dream as an All-Star baseball player.  And yet, he chose to be a drug dealer,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.  “He chose to break the law for profit.  He chose to make a buck off someone’s addiction.  Today, society chose to hold him accountable and took away his freedom.”

According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Loaiza’s rented townhouse was a “stash house” used to distribute cocaine and lacked furniture or personal belongings.  Law enforcement located the cocaine concealed within a factory-built compartment in the rear cargo area of a minivan parked in the garage under baseball bags bearing Loaiza’s name. The packages of cocaine are depicted in the attached photos from the government’s sentencing papers.

In court today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper highlighted aggravating factors that he said make this crime more troubling, including the significant quantity of cocaine, Loaiza’s active and involved participation in the criminal venture, and his privileged background.

Casper described the amount of cocaine as “very substantial even in this border district.  That quantity represents tens of thousands of doses of a highly addictive drug that so often has a devastating impact on the lives of so many - not only in our community but well beyond.”

Casper also noted that the defendant was not merely a courier. He had full knowledge of what he was transporting; he rented and maintained the stash house and he transported and transferred 20 packaged bricks of cocaine himself, from one vehicle to another.

“This defendant had every advantage before engaging in this crime,” Casper said. “Mr. Loaiza had fame, he had fortune. He earned significant accolades in baseball and had opportunities many can only dream of. He was certainly looked up to by many youngsters as a success and as a figure to emulate. These circumstances are very different from many of the defendants that this court sees. In some sense, this case is akin to circumstances in which an individual abuses a position of trust in committing a crime.”

After handing down the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino acknowledged the defendant’s history as a baseball star. “The story changes,” she told him. “It’s not just a success story…But it’s still something people can learn from.”

Loaiza was allowed to remain free on bond and ordered to report to authorities on April 19.

Brewer praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Larry Casper and Jarad Hodes for their excellent work on the case. “Because of Larry, Jarad and our law enforcement partners, this defendant will no longer be free to bring destructive drugs into our communities.”

“We are grateful for the perseverance that our law enforcement partners have demonstrated during the past several months,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott. “Collaboratively, our efforts resulted in Esteban Loaiza’s just conviction and sentencing.”

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  The principal mission of the OCEDTF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

DEFENDANT                                               Criminal Case Number 18CR1743-JLS                            

Esteban Antonio Loaiza                                  Age: 47           Imperial Beach, California


Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $10 million fine


United States Drug Enforcement Administration

United States Border Patrol

San Diego Sheriff’s Department       


Updated March 8, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS19-0308-Loaiza