A cocaine bust involving an 87-year-old man has led to another major drug prosecution for the federal government, this one involving a Mexican drug cartel run by 18 people, the U.S. Attorneys office announced today.
A second superseding indictment on Wednesday charged 18 people with running a massive, multimillion-dollar cocaine ring between Mexico and Detroit, involving more than 800 kilograms of cocaine.
Prosecutors said the indictment is part of a previous indictment from last year involving Leo Earl Sharp, 87, of Michigan City, Ind., who was arrested during a traffic stop near Ann Arbor with 229 pounds of cocaine in his pickup. That was at least $2.9 million worth of cocaine in wholesale value, police said.
In court last year, Sharp did not offer a full explanation about what happened. But he did try telling the magistrate that he was forced at gunpoint to haul the cocaine, until his lawyer stepped in and advised him to just answer the judge's questions.
Ray Richards, Sharp’s attorney, told the Free Press last year that it was Sharp's first time in the federal court system, and his client likely was confused by the questioning.
"I'm sure it was quite an experience for him," said Richards, who described Sharp as "an eclectic client who found himself in a pretty significant situation."
As for the latest case, federal prosecutors do not say how Sharp is tied to the Mexican drug case.
They only say that the new indictment stems from Sharp’s case.
According to the indictment, defendants Jose Roberto Lucero-Bustamante and Armando Dias-Lucero led a drug trafficking organization that shipped cocaine on a regular basis from Mexico to Michigan.
The drug organization, records show, is a part of the drug cartel based in Sinaloa, Mexico. It helped distribute between 100 and 300 kilograms of cocaine per month in Metro Detroit, from 2008 through 2011.
Since 2011, DEA agents and other federal agents have seized more than 200 kilograms of cocaine, and more than $2.5 million in cash.
Members of the organization resided in Mexico, Florida, California and Michigan.
Shipments of cocaine would be received at the Arizona Mexico border, and then driven to Michigan. Here, authorities said, members would meet at a warehouse in Wyandotte, where massive quantities of cocaine would be unloaded and distributed to individual members, some receiving as much as 100 kilograms of cocaine per shipment.
At the warehouse, records show, drug proceeds would be packaged and loaded into vehicles, including a recreational vehicle that would be driven by drug couriers to the Mexican border.
“Our drug prosecution efforts are focused on large drug trafficking organizations like this one, which pour huge quantities of dangerous drugs into our community,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso added:
"Shedding light on this conspiracy makes it quite clear that the Mexican drug cartels are open for business right here in our backyard.”
Also charged in the indictment are:
Jose Roberto Lucero-Bustamante, 34; Armando Dias-Lucero, 28; Pedro Delgado-Sanchez, 44; Octavio Humberto Gamez, 38; Moises Osuna Licona, 43; Theodore J. Czach, 35; Alejandro Aparicio Vargas, 38; Antonio Simmons, 38; Sergio Cordova Alvarado, 31; Nicholas Dominick Simmons, 24; Kenneth Dwayne Jenkins, 53; David Felix Jurado, 30; Oscar Enriquez Martinez, 33; Reymoyne Thornton, 39; Walter Ogden, 55; Mark George Bailey, 38; and Martin Najjar, 36.Detroit Free Press
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