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Cartel drug mule, 90, sentenced to prison on his birthday

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WW II veteran Leo Sharp turned 90 on May 7, the same day he appeared in a Detroit courtroom and sentenced to serve three years in federal prison after getting busted in 2011 for transporting cocaine – 104 bricks of cocaine - for a Mexican drug cartel. While still in court on Wednesday, Sharp called the prison sentence “a death sentence.”

Sharp was caught with all that cocaine in October 2011 when police pulled him over for driving his truck erratically on a Michigan interstate, according to Reuters. During his drug trial, it was revealed that the elderly Sharp had transported 1,250 kilos, or 2,755 pounds of cocaine, at an estimated street value of $3 million, from the southwestern U.S. into Michigan. He made six trips from 2010 – 2011, earning $1,000 for every kilogram of cocaine he moved. In addition to all that cocaine, Sharp also transported “duffel bags stuffed with cash” belonging to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel back to the southwest from Michigan.

Citing his age and medical issues which include dementia and the need for around the clock monitoring, Sharp’s lawyers were angling for a supervised release sentence or home confinement. Prosecutors made the case that it was Sharp’s advanced age that saved him from detection sooner, and that he “was now trying to use his age to shield himself from punishment.” In exchange for the plea deal and reduced charge, Sharp pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine. In addition to his prison sentence, Sharp also had to give up two Florida properties and $500,000 in cash. He was allowed to keep his Indiana home and farm.

USA Today shared that just prior to his sentencing in federal court on his ninetieth birthday, Sharp expressed sorrow for his crimes and expressed those regrets to the judge - hoping to avoid any jail time. Sharp told the judge, "I'm really heartbroken I did what I did. But it's done."

"I won't live in prison, I'm just going to end my life if I end up there."

During sentencing, Judge Nancy Edmunds said that Sharp’s wasn’t a victimless crime. “This is a huge drug operation, and Mr. Sharp was right in the middle of it,” she said. For more on the story, see the video accompanying this article.

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