Leo Sharp, a 90-year-oldWorld War II veteran, went from one of America’s foremost day lily experts to one of its most prolific drug mules.
Sam Dolnick in New York Times Magazine tells the story of “Tata” (Grandfather), a Detroit urban legend who delivered thousands of pounds of cocaine for the Sinaloa cartel over 10 years while also tending his impressive garden.
“Leo is the perfect courier for the cartel,” said Special Agent Jeremy Fitch, one of the D.E.A. agents who worked the case that caught Sharp.
The Godfather of day-lilies, Sharp attended flower conventions across the country “dressed in either an all-white leisure suit or an all-black one, Dolnick writes. “He traveled with an entourage of Mexican farmhands to help with the hundreds of flowers he would give away, making his admirers swoon.”
Sharp was also very good at his new line of work, zig-zagging across the country as one of Sinaloa’s most trusted couriers.
He is thought to have made more than $US1 million in 2010 alone, serving as a conduit for what was reportedly the biggest cocaine operation Detroit authorities had ever seen.
On October 8, 2013, Leo Sharp pleaded
guilty to drug conspiracy charges. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison on May 7 — and the government allowed him to keep his day-lily farm.
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