87-year-old caught with cocaine: Latest in long line of drug busts on Ann Arbor area highways
Previous story: 87-year-old man busted with 104 bricks of cocaine near Chelsea
The arrest of an 87-year-old man accused of transporting more than 200 pounds of cocaine after being arrested on Interstate 94 near Chelsea on Friday is the latest and largest drug bust related to Ann Arbor-area highways.
Large drug busts on highways near Ann Arbor, including I-94, are nothing new, according to Special Agent Rich Isaacson of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Isaacson said I-94 is one of the major routes for drug traffickers bringing illegal substances into the United States, usually from the southwest where Mexican drug cartels control much of the drug trade, he said.
“It certainly is one of the major routes that drug trafficking organizations use to get drugs to the north and east,” Isaacson said. “The majority of illegal drugs come from Mexican cartels and it just so happens to be one of the major interstates.
"I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone and I don’t think it’s necessarily a new phenomenon either.”
Leo Earl Sharp, of Michigan City, Ind., was arrested after Michigan State Police troopers found 104 bricks of cocaine in his pick-up truck following a traffic stop.
Courtesy of www.mydaylilies.com
The 87-year-old man owns the 46-acre Brookwood Gardens farm, where there is a display garden of day lilies sponsored by the American Hemerocallis Society.
A message left for Sharp was not returned Monday afternoon. Neighbors near his listed address in Indiana were unable to speak about him or were not available when reached.
Sharp’s arrest follows the arrest of Gerhard Neufeld Wiebe, a Canadian man who was allegedly carrying 10 kilograms of cocaine in his van, in July on M-14. Wiebe was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
Federal investigators said Wiebe told them a man paid him $3,900 to drive to Los Angeles to pick up an unknown amount of cocaine and drive it to an undisclosed location.
Margarita Vallejo, of La Habra, Calif., was arrested after police found 12 kilograms of cocaine and $2 million in her rental car in Calhoun County, near Battle Creek. Vallejo said she picked up the drugs and the money at a hotel in Ann Arbor and was driving to Chicago to deliver the drugs, according to federal investigators.
Isaacson said Sharp’s arrest, along with the others, represent just a part of area freeways’ long association with drug trafficking. He said I-94 has been the scene of numerous large drug busts in the past few decades.
“I’ve been with the DEA for the past 20 years and there have been major seizures from the southwest on that corridor and certainly even prior to that,” he said.
Meanwhile, very little was known about Sharp, who told a federal judge in Detroit during his first court appearance on Monday that he was “forced to do what I did by gunpoint,” according to the Associated Press.
It’s unknown where he was heading with the drugs and the claim of being forced to transport the drugs at gunpoint was unsubstantiated in court, according to the AP story.
The Indiana man said he would be writing a book about the arrest and he could read better than anyone else in the courtroom, according to the AP. He will return to court on Nov. 10 and will receive a mental health evaluation.