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Ex-MLB Star Esteban Loaiza 3 Years In Prison In Cocaine Case

3/8/2019 3:14 PM PST

Ex-MLB Star Esteban Loaiza Gets 3 Years In Prison In Cocaine Case

Breaking News

Ex-MLB All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza just got sentenced to 36 months in prison after officials found him hiding 44 pounds of cocaine ... and he'll surrender next month. 

As we previously reported, Loaiza -- who made more than $40 MILLION during his 14-year MLB career -- was arrested last year after cops say he was trying to move more than $500,000 in cocaine from a house located near a school.

Officials say Loaiza was using "sophisticated" smuggling devices to hide the 22 kilos of coke.

On Friday, the 47-year-old appeared in court in San Diego for his sentencing. He was facing life in prison -- but seems to be getting off easy ... with just a 3-year prison sentence. 

Officials say he'll be deported to his native Mexico following his release. 

The story about how he was caught is crazy. 

The San Diego County Sheriff's Dept. says he was busted during a drug-smuggling sting by the Border Crime Suppression Team.

Loaiza was initially stopped by police during a traffic stop for a minor traffic violation -- but a search of his car led to the discovery of a "sophisticated aftermarket compartment used to conceal contraband."

Cops then got a warrant to search a home that Loaiza had been renting since early February -- located "steps away from an area preschool" -- and found roughly 20 kilograms of suspected cocaine.

Estimated street value -- $500,000.

Loaiza was initially booked into San Diego County Jail for 3 felonies -- Possession of Cocaine Over 20 Kilograms, Possession of Cocaine for Sale, and Transportation of Cocaine.

He later pled guilty to felony cocaine possession with intent to distribute. 

Loaiza, the second-winningest pitcher from Mexico in MLB history, played for 8 different teams in his career -- earning over $43 million.

He last played for the White Sox in 2008 -- the same team he played for when he was an All-Star in 2003 and 2004.

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