Man, 87, nabbed with 228 pounds of cocaine, police say

Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:08am EDT

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(Reuters) - An 87-year-old Indiana man was arraigned on drug charges in federal court in Detroit on Monday after police found 228 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $2.9 million in his pickup following a routine traffic stop.

A state trooper patrolling Interstate 94 near Ann Arbor pulled over Leo Earl Sharp on Friday for following too closely and executing an improper lane change, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

When the trooper asked Sharp if he could search the truck, the octogenarian refused. So the trooper requested a backup unit with a dog trained to detect bombs and illegal drugs.

As the animal walked around the rear of Sharp's truck, it alerted to the possible presence of narcotics, the complaint said. During a subsequent search of the truck bed, troopers found 104 bricks of cocaine stashed in five bags.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Randon released Sharp, of Michigan City, Indiana, on $10,000 bond on Monday and scheduled a next hearing in the case for November.

Sharp was charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. If convicted, he faces at least 10 years in prison.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher and Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (13)
Kozz wrote:
I’m no scholar when it comes to the bill of rights, but was it not well within this man’s right to refuse the search? The article makes it sound as though the officer thought, “What? You’re refusing? Now I’m DEFINITELY going to search you” when he brought in backup and a dog.

Yes, this old man broke the law. But was the search constitutional, valid, and legal? It sounds as though the cops broke the law by executing their search unless there’s some details we’re not getting that aroused adequate (legal) suspicion, like a weapon or drug paraphernalia in plain view.

Oct 25, 2011 12:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
NashvilleDave wrote:
@Kozz,

He did, and the officer did not violet his rights. Letting a dog walk around your truck is a far cry from searching it. However, when the dog made a positive hit on the back of the pickup truck THAT provided probable cause.

Oct 25, 2011 12:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
nopulse wrote:
@Kozz

The reasons that the police officer pulled this man over didn’t give him ‘probable cause’ to search his vehicle.

The second this man refused to have his vehicle searched gave the police officer that ‘probable cause’ to call backup and have his vehicle searched.

You ALWAYS say yes if a police officer wants to search your vehicle. Hell, this guy might have gotten away with his trafficking if he did.

Oct 25, 2011 1:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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