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15 Bad Grandpas (and Grandmas)

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By McCarton Ackerman

07/01/14

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Darlene Mayes, 73, marijuana

Known around Tulsa, OK as the “Ganja Grandma,” Mayes was responsible for a drug ring that distributed 40 percent of the marijuana around the city, as well as into parts of Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. Police raided her home in April 2012 and found four pounds of pot, $276,000 in cash and two weapons. The money was contained in bundles of bills labeled “$15,000,” as well as a vacuum-sealed bag holding $200,000. Mayes initially told officers that the money was for her retirement fund before owning up to the massive operation. Police also reported that she had a bevy of dealers working for her, including her son Jerry, who was also arrested on drug charges. 

James Evans, 70, synthetic marijuana

Instead of receiving mail from Publishers Clearing House, this Texas grandfather was arrested last September for having a delivery with 20 packages of synthetic marijuana sent to his home. Local police in the town of Raymondville reported that not only was Allen selling the synthetic pot to young people in the neighborhood, but that “he was also later found with cocaine in his possession and marijuana individually wrapped ready for distribution.” He admitted to selling the drugs, but said he did it to send money to his out-of-town grandchildren. Allen also admitted that a relative was selling him the drug packages and Raymondville police issued a warrant for the relative's arrest shortly after. 

Owulabi and Omowunmi Ganiyu Amoo, 60 and 57, heroin

This Nigerian couple didn’t have a particularly joyous New Year’s Eve in 2010, spending it with airport security officials in the city of Lagos as they excreted 160 wraps of heroin. Owulabi admitted that the couple were given an initial payment of $2,000 and could have received an additional $8,000 if they successfully brought the drugs into New York City, their final destination. The couple later begged for forgiveness and attributed the smuggling to financial hardships they were facing. “I need money for school fees, rent and feeding. I started the drug business in 2009. I feel sad and regret my involvement in drug trafficking,” he said. “The excitement of $10,000 per trip was irresistible.” 

Theresa Anderson, 58, crack

Her neighbors in Buffalo saw Anderson as a lovable grandma, so they were shocked to find the dozen houses she bought along two nearby streets were all used for a massive drug operation. Using several of her relatives to push the drugs, police claim that she controlled the local drug trade through fear and violence, but also kept the area clean and safe for other community members. She was finally arrested in February 2012 for the “24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week” crack trade and faced more than 17 years in prison, but her attorney, Robert Ross Fogg, blamed her drug dealing on a drug problem. “Drugs, they take hold of you,” he said. They take your soul and they take your mind.”

Lindsay Sandiford, 57, cocaine

This British grandma is currently on death row in Bali after police found more than $2.4 million in cocaine on her as she entered Bali International Airport in 2012. She was condemned to death by firing squad in January 2013, despite the fact that prosecutors asked for a relatively minor 15-year sentence. Her three accomplices in the smuggling were also sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to six years on lesser charges including possession. She filed an appeal against her death sentence last August, but it was unanimously rejected. Two months later, she was moved to another jail cell after being viciously attacked by her cellmate. A source reported that “she was shocked and depressed when she was sentenced to death, then she just shut herself off and cried in her cell. When Lindsay asked [her] South African [cellmate] to stop being so noisy, [the cellmate] punched her.”

McCarton Ackerman has been a regular contributor to The Fix since 2011. He recently wrote about 12 shocking drug news items from Florida and Esther Nicholson.

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