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.
Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter.
Wed, Oct 26, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.
The tip of the 'Iceberg' : Firstly, I would congratulate those Officers who had stopped him for a routine traffic violation or some other valid reason. Good job, Well done. However, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Narcotics are flowing into this country and we may not have a good estimate of this problem. What we really need to know is; we need to know the people who are using these chemical substances to satisfy their drug cravings. There are a few reported deaths after cocaine use. The number of frequent users is increasing and hence there is persistent demand and regular supply from the South. Catching this type of offenders is good and still we must know the people and help them to understand their need or dependence on cocaine or other drugs.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.
My research says this sweet little old man may not have always been so sweet.
Wed, Oct 26, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.
rinmem10 - I posted links to that previously. He also has nurseries (Brookwood Gardens) both in Michigan City, IN and Apopka, Fl.
Wed, Oct 26, 2011 : 8:44 a.m.
What good is innuendo?
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.
I'd say sweet only if those bricks were made of powdered sugar and not nose candy!
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 6:14 p.m.
seriously? Does anyone think that some punk drug lord is going to turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his product to anyone he doesn't know? In the suspect's statement according to the previous story, a gun was held to his head...too bad the gun toting person making that threat was able to vanish into thin air. Random traffic violations like this stop are not random...don't know how long or for what distance this vehicle was under surveillance, but I bet this week's pay that the Law waited until he did something they could stop him from and BEFORE he got to Ann Arbor. Good Job to all agencies involved and THANK YOU!
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.
"A message left for Sharp was not returned Monday afternoon. " /end quote from article No kidding he didn't return your call. He's in Jail! Good grief.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.
Yeah, keep up!
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.
release? hmmm...wonder where he went and how he got there...his vehicle was impounded undoubtedly and not returned...perhaps one of his friends...or lieutenants...gave him a ride.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.
Tesla- He was released on bond and is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 10. That information was in a story we posted yesterday.
Are you serious?
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.
When I first read this story I immediately thought that Walter White was expanding his territory out of NM, and that he was recruiting mules from the nursing home where Hector and Gus were offed.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.
Back in the early 30's, Ford Motor drained Ford Lake to clean it up and found several cars in the lake with bodies. These were bootleggers that had been intercepted on Michigan Avenue and robbed. Back then, Michigan Avenue was the alcohol conduit to and from Chicago. Eighty years and what have we learned about making things people want illegal, nothing. We just repeat our mistakes over and over.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.
I'm pretty sure I'm correct.I looked up a 1915 map and there is no lake
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.
Are you sure about that ? I thought that Ford Lake which is man made ( there's still a bridge down there that used to go over the river ) was made to supply power ( the dam ) to the Willow Run bomber plant
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.
Humm, please just keep the investigation going. I would like to read his book if IT gets written.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.
It is an interesting story and a friend of mine who had worked with me in Ann Arbor had shared his horrible experience with his former employer. This friend had worked for a floral delivery service which delivers flowers and plants to homes of their customers. Apparently, the employer was using the service to deliver cocaine to some customers and the drug was included in packets which look like the plant medicine which comes along with plants and flowers. He had unwittingly delivered cocaine to a customer who had never expected to receive it. The customer gave a tip and my friend got arrested. My friend was thoroughly investigated and finally got his name cleared. I remember my friend as he was the first person who spoke to me about the dangers of drinking sodas like Coke and Pepsi. He is a good soul who got caught up in this narcotic trade without his knowledge. This old man appears to be a partner in this business of transporting drugs and distributing them. His business and Garden farm must be searched and there could be more evidence than what has been discovered in this traffic stop.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.
these large drug busts are not random nor lucky. If anyone doesn't get that they are the work of extensive undercover/investigations work by law enforcement, the FBI, ATF and DEA you are naive. Keep up the good work! Drugs involve gangs/people trafficing/money laundering/weapons etc.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.
I blame neighbors for not being able to be reached or want speak, haha , because , if lived, near godfather I too would be able to be reached.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.
104 bricks of cocaine on the wall, 104 bricks of cocaine if one of those bricks of cocaine should happen to fall...
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.
DEA says "hands on the wall"
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.
It does seem odd that an 87 year old pulled over for improper lane violation gets his vehicle searched. I've made my share of traffic violations & have been verbally warned to behave because of no previous violations (they expired) on my record. Comments about his reading ability & writing a book about his arrest might be clues about just keeping him off the highway period. Lucky? Sure; but I would agree with those that thought an mundisclosed clue had the police watching. What's the line? 'Tis more more than meets the eye?
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.
He looks like David Kelly from Waking Ned Devine. At least he wasn't nude riding a motorcycle down I-94.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.
hahahaha maybe he was...
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.
Can I get my AARP discount?
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 12:02 p.m.
I'm calling BS on his story, I bet if they look into him they'll find money problems.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.
he's the godfather so when he arrest he so cool and know just the right thing to say.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.
This guy is a dead ringer for Tony Montano.