Phoenix grandmother accused of flying with $500,000 worth of cocaine

Posted at 11:49 PM, Oct 17, 2016

A Phoenix grandmother accused of flying cross-country with more than $500,000 worth of cocaine in her luggage will not return home for now, a judge decided on Monday.

Cheryl Cheatham, 63, flew from Las Vegas to Detroit last week with the cocaine individually bagged in two separate pieces of luggage, according to federal court paperwork.

A judge decided she will remain in custody in Michigan instead of granting Cheatham’s lawyers' request to let Cheatham return to Arizona, where she lives with her daughter and three grandchildren, according to court testimony.

Las Vegas to Detroit is a drug smuggling route, according to the criminal complaint against Cheatham.

Federal officers saw Cheatham look at several different bags at the baggage claim at the Detroit airport and began watching her, the complaint said. After she went to a Detroit-area hotel, but didn’t check in and instead left in a chauffeured SUV, police stopped the vehicle, the complaint said. A drug dog alerted to something in the vehicle, and police found the drugs in Cheatham’s luggage, the complaint said.

An attempt to reach Cheatham’s daughter Monday night was not successful. Cheatham’s lawyer testified that she has multiple health issues and questioned the Constitutionality of the traffic stop that led to Cheatham’s arrest.

Investigators’ suspicions were piqued again when Cheatham asked to call her daughter once in custody, but Cheatham dialed a contact on her cell phone labeled “Loverboy,” a prosecutor testified. The number didn’t match the number authorities had for Cheatham’s daughter, a prosecutor testified. The identity of Loverboy was not revealed in court.