Jenni Rivera Widower Esteban Loaiza Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges, Faces at Least 10 Years in Prison

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Starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza #25 of the Oakland Athletics looks on during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at McAfee Coliseum on July 1, 2006 in Oakland, Calif.

Jenni Rivera’s widower, former Major League Baseball player Esteban Loaiza, pleaded guilty to drug charges in a California court on Friday (Aug. 10) and could be deported once he serves his sentence.    

Loaiza, 46, is a legal U.S. resident. He’ll remain free on bail until his sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 2, and faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.   

Loaiza’s problems stem from a February arrest in San Diego, where he was found in possession of 44 pounds of cocaine. Loaiza was under surveillance and was arrested in front of a house in Imperial Beach at the border with Tijuana. A search warrant found the cocaine in another car. At the time, Loaiza pleaded not guilty, but according to published reports, in his new plea agreement he admitted he’d transferred the drugs from one car to another.    

A pitcher who played with several MLB teams from 1995 to 2008, including the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Loaiza is also a former All-Star player. But he catapulted into an entirely new realm of celebrity after his retirement from professional baseball when he married Rivera in 2010. At the time, the singer was at the cusp of her fame and was also the star of her own reality TV show on mun2.

Although the marriage was initially a happy one, it soon devolved into a series of public recriminations, with Rivera filing for divorce in October 2012, two months before her death in an airplane crash. The divorce hadn't been finalized at the time of her death.